In some states with newer medical marijuana programs, patients can sometimes wait in line up to several hours at certain dispensaries to meet with a budtender and select their products. Patients lament these barriers, often noting that some dispensaries only have outdoor areas to wait. Others noted that dispensaries weren’t clear about their policies for accommodating disabled patients, making it difficult for them to know whether they would be able to manage to go to the dispensary personally to pick up their cannabis medicine.
Dispensary management sometimes cite corporate policies as the reason they can’t be more accommodating. If you feel you’re being denied access at your dispensary as a disabled patient, don’t hesitate to reach out to both local and corporate management of the dispensary or the state program itself to seek clarification on dispensary and program policies and guidelines.
Ordering online and utilizing curbside pickup service can save you time and the anguish of waiting in line at some dispensaries. Not all dispensaries offer curbside service, though, so make sure to call ahead if this is a service you need. In some states such as Texas, cannabis delivery is available, but not in others. This guide can help you find the law on cannabis delivery in your state.
Another way to save time is to make sure that you have your state identification card and your medical marijuana card before you leave for the dispensary. . Also double check that each is expired.
It’s also important to note that children under 18 are not allowed in dispensaries unless they are a registered patient, so make child care arrangements accordingly. Most states do not even permit any other adult into a dispensary unless they are a registered patient or caregiver.
One solution some medical marijuana patients cite for waiting in long lines is to elect a caregiver to pick up their medicine for them. Learn more about adding a caregiver to your medical marijuana card here.
Smell jars give patients the ability to smell cannabis flower before purchasing it. For those who rely on terpenes to guide their purchase decisions, getting a sample sniff can be extremely helpful.
Unfortunately, smell jars have gone away in many dispensaries since the start of the pandemic for health and safety reasons. It may still be worth asking your dispensary if they have sample smell jars. If they don’t have them, you’ll need to rely on online product information and reviews to help you determine the terpene profile of the product you’re purchasing.
Patients also noted difficulty with being able to purchase the same product from week to week. In states like Ohio, demand for cannabis products still outweighs supply. Being able to find a consistent product at your favorite dispensary can be difficult. Patients note that shopping for terpenes instead of strain names or cultivators can help them achieve more consistency, but continue to note lack of consistent supply as a key problem of many programs.
Beyond browsing strain names and terpenes, patients may find the Certificate of Analysis helpful to look at when deciding if a strain may be worth purchasing. Trying to locate a specific product at a specific dispensary? One of these two menu databases may be helpful: I Heart Jane and Dutchie.
If you’ve perused the online menu and still have questions about your products, be sure to ask when you get to the dispensary. Typically, when you meet with the budtender, you’ll have an opportunity to review any products you ordered online. Be sure to inspect them carefully, reading any additional product information and scanning the COA QR code if there is one. This is your chance to swap out any products you don’t want and order something else if you need. Don’t feel rushed by the budtender–it’s your time and money and you want to be sure that the products you ultimately purchase are what you want before you leave the dispensary.
Especially in states with newer programs, prices can be higher than what you might see in other states or on the black market. Being a patient in these states can get expensive without a proper plan for what you’ll purchase. Many states offer discounts for patients who qualify for benefit programs such as disability or social supplemental income (indigent), are a veteran, which qualify for significant discounts. Make sure you know how to apply for these statuses and what that discount amount will be at your local chosen dispensary. Indigent and veteran discounts can range from 15-30 percent. Sometimes that discount can be applied on top of other sales, so be diligent to look for opportunities to save money if you’re in one of these special categories. For the general patient population, make sure to follow your local dispensaries on social media to learn about their upcoming promotions and sales.
Another lesser known way to save money is the use of other mobile payment programs that incentivize participation. In Ohio, Spendr is one rewards program that patients have noted saves them additional money.
The best way patients can be resourceful about their purchases at the dispensary is to ask plenty of questions and inspect products to make sure that you’re not buying something that you won’t like or cannot use.
Patients noted that they weren’t given much guidance on what to do once they left the store with their products. Because of its status as a federally illegal substance, patients take a risk when they transport their medicine from the dispensary to their home, where they are allowed to legally use it. Concerned patients noted these tips: Don’t open the bag before you arrive home, and be sure to place it in your trunk or other storage compartment when transporting. Drive directly home, obeying all traffic laws. Once home, transfer to a safe place for storing.
If you have any problems with your cannabis medicine, be sure to contact the dispensary as soon as possible to determine their return policy. However, if you just don’t like the product, you typically won’t be refunded.
These additional tips can help you prepare for the best possible dispensary experience.
Author: Gabrielle Dion Visca
Gabrielle has been writing and editing professionally for the medical and wellness industries for more than 20 years. She’s held positions with The Journal of Pediatrics, Livestrong, The Cincinnati Enquirer, and Patient Pop. She currently writes articles about medical marijuana for Duber Medical, and is the founder of the Ohio cannabis journalism non-profit, MedicateOH.