Are virtual reality dispensaries the way of the future?

Published May 5, 2023 09:00 a.m. ET
Unsplash / Remy Gieling

As the cannabis industry evolves so too do the ways consumers interact with the plant and that includes how they buy it. One of the latest and most innovative and controversial additions to the cannabis retail space is VR dispensaries. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the many benefits and drawbacks of virtual cannabis stores, and highlight the reasons why they’re unlikely to eliminate the in-person shopping experience.

Benefits of VR dispensaries

One of the things that makes VR dispensaries most appealing is convenience since consumers can access these vendors at any time, from anywhere in the world. This feature is incredibly useful for those living in remote areas, as well as shoppers with mobility issues that make it difficult to travel.

Another benefit of virtual retailers is that they make browsing a truly engaging experience that may not be possible with traditional in-person locations or online shopping, due to legal restrictions. Here, with nothing more than a headset, shoppers can interact with products in a way that feels real, with cool features such as zoom. This creates a fully immersive engaging setting that can be fun and educational for enthusiasts.

Virtual reality dispensaries make it easier for those who may otherwise be too nervous to explore cannabis to check out what the market really has to offer. Their mere existence is also bound to increase exposure, influencing societal attitudes,and reducing the stigma by normalizing the presence of the plant in environments where some people feel more comfortable.

Drawbacks of VR dispensaries

With so many amazing benefits it’s easy to see why some might prefer a virtual shopping experience over visiting a brick-and-mortar store, but there are also a few drawbacks to consider, like the lack of real physical interaction with a human or cannabis products. In VR you can’t smell or touch anything, which for many is an essential part of deciding what they want to buy.

Another potential downside of VR dispensaries lies in the potential for technology to fail something we’ve all experienced at some point or another. If a customer’s VR headset malfunctions or their internet connection isn’t great, it’s going to interfere with the quality of the shopping experience leaving many frustrated.


Last but not least it’s important to highlight the fact that VR cannabis stores simply aren’t accessible or appealing for all consumers. Some may prefer traditional in-person browsing while others don’t have access to all of the tools and technology necessary to make a virtual visit or purchase.

Will VR dispensaries replace in-person shopping?

The virtual world offers many benefits and cannabis being a part of that space is exciting news, but it’s highly unlikely these shops will ever completely replace real stores. While they’re certainly convenient and even ideal for some, others are always going to prefer the physical interactions that can only happen in a traditional dispensary.

In conclusion

VR dispensaries can be a valuable addition to the cannabis retail landscape, offering a unique, stimulating, and innovative way for consumers to browse, purchase and learn about products in a space that’s accessible and 100% judgment free. But they’ll likely never compare to the real thing.

Weed VR is coming to Canada in 2019


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