5 ways to rate your local marijuana dispensary

Published Nov 9, 2019 02:00 p.m. ET
iStock / RUBEN RAMOS

When it comes to the search for the perfect marijuana dispensary, many people have no idea where to start, as a new industry has no prior history to refer to as a standard. Browsing the shelves of dispensaries is often enough of an anxiety-inducing experience, without feeling lost and directionless on how to proceed. All consumers should be aware of some of the most important additions to look for in a marijuana dispensary, and to help, we have compiled a list of helpful ways to rate your local dispensaries.

1. Knowledgeable budtenders
When you walk into a marijuana dispensary, one of the most important things to look for is a well-educated budtender. The best way to test this is to ask any questions that come to mind during a visit and gauge the response. Was there hesitance? Perhaps, a disinterest in the question at hand. Or did they offer advice that follows a well-known stereotype rather than fact?

If any of the above is true, then you might want to look for a new vendor. Even a recreational dispensary should be staffed with people who can help to guide you through the experience that awaits, which requires more than the ability to sell. Without this essential service, consumers are left to blindly buy products in hopes of figure things out on their own, which can lead to a potentially negative experience and waste of money.

2. A welcoming and open atmosphere
Bright lights and a friendly, welcoming feel go a long way in providing comfort, particularly for customers who may be nervous to make a purchase. Smiling staff that are ready to serve consumers are a must-have, especially for less experienced shoppers who may be overwhelmed. These conditions are also ideal for inspecting products on display to help you to get a better visual idea of what you are buying. Good lighting and a warm feel are both necessary qualities to look for in a good marijuana dispensary as well.

3. Smoke-free status
Right now it can be difficult for consumers to tell the difference between legal and illegal dispensaries, but one of the most notable differences is often that customers can toke indoors at unlicensed stores. Not only do you not want to get high by walking around a shop full of smoke right before heading back home in your car, but you also don’t want to get caught partaking in this kind of establishment. A smoke-free facility is better for the health and safety of all customers, employees and indicates that a dispensary is offering a legal shopping experience.

4. Product variety
When legalization was first introduced in Canada, products were flying off of the shelves so quickly that customers were sitting vigilantly online waiting for the moment new stock arrived. Since then, the energy has changed, as most legal recreational dispensaries aren’t bursting at the seams with customers, and they have a whole lot more for product.

While you might not be able to find much more than oils and buds until mid to late December, a good range of product menu should include at least 15-20 different options to choose from, and if they don’t, then you might want to keep store shopping, or you are liable to miss out on exciting strains and products that should be within your reach.

5. Quality assurance
If you’ve visited a marijuana dispensary and the budtender hands you bags of cannabis that has been kept in the open, then something isn’t quite right. Though it is normal to see cannabis buds on display to view before purchase, high quality, tested, and approved products must abide by specific product standards. So if the dispensary doesn’t clearly indicate where all of their products are tested and offer access to the results of those scores, then you might want to keep on shopping.

Cannabis buds can be contaminated with mold spores, and other particulates and concentrated marijuana products can expire, or contain toxic additives in an attempt to add weight, color, or texture, and that is why all consumers benefit from buying from approved and regulated dispensaries. Especially those who seek medicinal benefits that are more susceptible to an adverse reaction from ingesting irritants like solvents, which are often used to make infused marijuana goods sold on the black market.

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