It’s a beautiful thing that marijuana is more available than ever in the United States. The trend is looking up, with what seems to be a new dispensary popping up every week in states that have legalized cannabis sales. With all those options comes a new problem: picking just one (at least for today)!
There are a number of factors to keep in mind when picking out a dispensary. It’s generally the same for medical and recreational use; the strain you select matters more than the place you pick, but some medical dispensaries may have some extra benefits for patients, so that’s worth considering. We’ll go through a few basic questions that should help you decide on your new regular spot.
1. How are you treated by the staff?
A lot of folks would consider the price or quality most important, but I’m going to say the staff is the key differentiator. If you’ve got a budtender who is honest, knowledgeable and willing to answer your questions, chances are good that you’ll be happy with the experience in the end. The quality of cannabis can fluctuate based on the grow conditions, and there isn’t a dispensary in the country that allows taste tests (to our knowledge). That means you need someone on the inside.
It’s critical to find someone who will tell you (truthfully) what’s good this week and what’s overpriced the next. This goes double for medical marijuana patients. If you’ve got a guide on the inside, you’re sure to find the right strain. Hey, if they get to know you, and you come regularly enough, they might even reserve some of your favorite strain when it starts getting low and you’re due to show up soon.
On the other hand, a place with indifferent staff can make the trip to the dispensary much more miserable than it should be. Dishonest budtenders will push strains that they know aren’t selling due to their quality. They will treat you with indifference and act like you don’t belong there. Kinda adds a sour taste to anything you take away.
2. Are you happy with what you got for the price you paid?
It’s notoriously difficult to agree on a “normal” price for marijuana, but there are some things you can keep in mind. The location, quality and weight are the three factors that you should consider.
So what makes a good deal, then? Most cannabis is priced based on scarcity, yield and flowering time. If it takes three months to flower, the yield is small and it’s the only plant in the entire state, you’re going to pay top dollar no matter what the quality is. That’s why you see some strains becoming super common; they’re generally quick to flower, decently potent and yield enough to make the grow worthwhile. Others fizzle out due to low yields, difficulties while growing or a general lack of usefulness.
Dispensaries and regulated cannabis sales allow for some control on the market. It’s now easier than ever to check prices, with many sites offering menus online. You can do some window shopping before hitting the location and show up knowing full well what to expect.
If you can trust the staff (see item 1), you should feel comfortable asking them what they recommend for your condition or personal tastes. If not, you’ll have to do some guessing based on the scent and appearance (they aren’t going to let you try it, remember?). If the price per gram is good (I’ve noticed an average of $10-15 per gram) and you enjoy the quality, then it’s definitely worth a return visit.
The one thing that you can usually count on is consistency. I find myself hitting the same few coffeeshops (Amsterdam) because I can trust that each batch will probably be on par with the last. Getting a bunk deal once usually means I’ll scratch it from my list. Try a few places and don’t be afraid to be selective if you’re lucky enough to live in a town with plenty of dispensaries.
3. Were there plenty of options to choose from?
A wide selection doesn’t just mean more strains/edibles/concentrates to try. It also often signals a fresh supply and above-average innovation. You’re more likely to be excited when visiting your favorite spot if you think something new might have arrived that morning. A large array of options also means that your changing mood can be accommodated – one day you might want a hard-hitting indica, the next you may be looking for an inspirational sativa and the following weekend might bring on a craving for concentrate.
While a top-notch staff and quality bud at low prices is always acceptable, even if the menu is only four or five strains deep, it’s important to think about availability when deciding between a few places you think have potential. A larger stock usually means that the inventory is updated regularly. That means the bud will more often be fresh than not. On top of that, the budtenders are more likely to have a stronger understanding of cannabis because they have to know all the unique aspects of their prolific products.
There are definitely plenty more factors to consider than these. Location is an obvious one, and the general vibe you get while shopping goes well beyond the staff. But if you’re able to find a place that offers high-quality cannabis with all your favorite strains and serves it with a wink and a smile, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be going back there every time. Settling for a weak joint will only result in disappointment for you, your lungs and your wallet. Of course, if you really can’t find the perfect dispensary nearby, you can always try opening your own.