As cannabis legalization continues to spread across the US, you’ll likely encounter a dispensary near you. Whether you’re new to cannabis use or your state has recently legalized its sale, it’s important to know what to expect from your dispensary experience.
First, let’s clarify what a dispensary is not: a convenience store for marijuana. Every state which has legalized cannabis has its own unique set of laws and regulations that govern dispensaries, including limitations on what you can purchase. If you’re visiting a dispensary for the first time, it’s a good idea to learn about your particular state’s laws and purchasing restrictions. For example, in Washington, there is no requirement to test cannabis for pesticides and some studies indicate that approximately 20% of growers still use harmful pesticides when growing cannabis. (This doesn’t include growers that use higher than approved amounts of “approved” pesticides, either.)
Each state has unique challenges like this, so when you’re selecting a dispensary to visit, it’s important to know your cannabis grower, processor, and dispensary. Do your research ahead of time so you know which growers use responsible methods for healthy plants, which processors use safe techniques, and which dispensaries take the time to fully educate and empower their bud tenders to help customers.
Just like liquor stores, you must be 21 years or older to purchase cannabis for recreational use (or 18 with a medical marijuana card.) Make sure you have your state-issued ID or medical card with you when you visit. If this is your first visit to a dispensary, you’ll likely be overwhelmed by the selection of strains, edibles, concentrates, and oils. Don’t be embarrassed to ask bud tenders questions about the products—high-quality dispensaries will have staff on hand who can guide you.
Limits on how much you can buy vary between states. In Washington, for example, you can purchase up to one ounce of flower for recreational
purposes and three ounces for medicinal use, while Oregon allows 24 ounces for medicinal purposes. In general, the one ounce limit on flower is relatively consistent across most states which have legalized recreational use. Limits on concentrates and other cannabis products will fluctuate more widely state to state.
You may wonder about where your end product comes from, which, again, can vary from state to state. Most legal states allow residents to grow their own flower at home and dispensaries may have the option to grow their own plants, as well. In general, individual states have regulatory authority over where cannabis can be grown. Some states regulate marijuana growth from seed to sale, while others have virtually no oversight at all.
The cannabis industry has expanded widely in recent decades and more than 60% of Americans support the legalization movement. So be responsible and educate yourself as a consumer, ensuring you pick a high-quality dispensary, processor, and grower for your cannabis products.