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Deciding on a Dispensary: Tips for Picking Where You Purchase

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Deciding on a Dispensary: Tips for Picking Where You Purchase

For anyone who has ever had the unfortunate experience of waiting for a phone call — the phone call ­ — to secure some buds, the indisputable convenience of going to a dispensary is a godsend. It provides a simple and easy way to make purchases without the stress of coordinating schedules and meeting locations with an independent seller. A dispensary also gives people access to an abundance of strains and other forms of cannabis including edibles and oils that might not otherwise be available.

Exposure to new products and strains is a major plus when it comes to shopping at dispensaries, but there are other aspects to consider as well. So many things make up the overall experience of shopping at a dispensary from the location and the lighting to the prices and the people that work or shop there.

For first-timers who need help with what to look for at retail locations or connoisseurs plotting to take their buying power to the next level, paying attention to these details will help ensure that future visits to dispensaries will garner the highest level of satisfaction.


Both the inside and outside of a retail location should reflect comfort and cleanliness. The exterior should be orderly and well maintained and the interior should be intuitively designed, simple to navigate and well-stocked. There shouldn’t be anything that elicits any uneasy feelings. Be knowledgeable about what specific things inspire discomfort and ruin the environment (and overall experience) during a visit. Is it the rude security guard checking cards at the door? Could it be the sketchy patrons that frequent the shop? Maybe the space feels too small. Whatever the problem is, take note of what it is that is off-putting and keep track for future visits to different dispensaries.


It’s very common for many dispensaries to store their buds in glass jars so that patrons can see the merchandise before they make a purchase. The problem is, many places leave these jars closed overnight which can lead to mold growing on the plant. One way to prevent purchasing moldy goods is to ask to smell the buds. If there is a smell similar to ammonia when a jar is opened, it’s an indication that the dispensary’s improper storage has unfortunately begun to affect their product. Buds should not smell musty or feel damp. If this happens, it’s a clear sign of negligence.


It’s okay to be picky about what neighborhoods or areas of town are worth venturing to in order to make purchases. Although there may be a spot that’s relatively close to home, safety should be a top priority. Things like metal detectors or barred windows are a red flag because they might be indications that the dispensary has had a number of issues that probably warrant concern. If there are unsavory characters in the surrounding area, if there’s lots of weird activity going on or if it just doesn’t feel right, it’s best to move on.


Although it’s normal for the potency level to vary from strain to strain, it’s a clear indication that a dispensary isn’t in business with high-caliber growers or cultivators. There is a difference between having a small selection of products and not having enough quality items with high potency and reliably dynamic results. There should be a plethora of options for all items — edibles, oils, topicals and flowers — with at least six top-shelf varieties to choose from on any given visit.


Going to a dispensary to make a purchase should be a hassle-free affair, free from stressors and other factors that detract from the overall experience. Patrons of any establishment should feel welcome, wanted and comfortable throughout their entire shopping experience from the time they enter the door to make a purchase to the time they leave the store with their chosen items. Any questions should be answered, transactions should be simple and the experience should be quick and feel easy.


Because customers don’t always have the answers when it comes to purchasing pot or edibles, it’s of the utmost importance for the staff at a dispensary to be attentive, knowledgeable and well informed about the products they are selling. Employees at a dispensary should be able to answer basic to intermediate questions regarding strains, characteristics, growing methods and proper dosage. Additionally, they should be able to make truly useful suggestions and recommend appropriate strains for a number of symptoms. If the staff is unapproachable, disinterested or otherwise aloof, that’s a sign that it might be time to pick another place to frequent.

[Originally published in issue 12 of Cannabis Now Magazine]

What are some things you pay attention to before deciding to frequent a dispensary?

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