How to Select High Quality Cannabis at the Dispensary

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Cannabis dispensaries are for-profit businesses. They are not pharmacies, and they should not be mistaken for a dealer in nice clothes. They expect to make a profit as a retail enterprise. Even those with strong customer and community interests must profit to remain in business.

You can pursue a positive customer experience and select high quality cannabis if you follow some tips.

6 tips on selecting high quality cannabis at the dispensary:

Tip #1: Pick your dispensary wisely. Cannabis dispensaries are not all the same. Some are medical cannabis only, and others sell both. Some have opened chains of stores with economies of scale and regional locations. Once the cannabis launch – a work-in-progress since legalization – has settled into some standardization, these chain stores will become models of organization, marketing, and operation. Until then, there is some reason customers should be wary.

On the plus side, most states have adopted model litigation for dispensary owners and managers to follow. Because the failure to comply can cost them the right to do business, most dispensaries have been following the mandates in the few years since the wave of legislation legalizing cannabis grow, process, sale, buy, transport, and use.

On the minus side, the potential for big profit will attract “black hat” owners willing to exploit their license for gain. Their greed will cut corners at the customers’ expenses. They may mislabel and overprice product. Or, they may claim or exaggerate benefits.

Tip #2: Do your research. The internet offers volumes of information and data on cannabis strains, by-products, and edibles. First, you should research what is out there – independent of specific dispensaries – and prepare a shopping list for your planned purchase.

Second, you should check the websites at dispensaries that interest you. You can see what they offer currently and how their description compares with the research you have done. That is one step towards getting what you want.

Third, you can comparison shop at several dispensaries online selecting the one that offers what you want at a price your wallet can afford. These steps help qualify the dispensary and its performance as a place you would like to buy.

Tip #3: Make a small buy. Again, you want to verify that the dispensary you have in mind does the kind of business you like and trust. You should visit the dispensary, go through the expected security checks, shop as long as they let you, and make a small purchase.

You might purchase an edible, lotion, or apparel. However, the idea is to check out the store’s behavior. You might notice how cannabis is displayed for marketing and sale. You might observe how free customers are to touch and smell the buds, and you could eavesdrop on the interaction between budtenders and customers. Chances are, if you are comfortable with your experience, you will trust what they offer.

Tip #4: Understand marketing more. In a sense, cannabis is marketed produce. Even when dried and cured, it has a shelf life. Retail dispensary businesses must move their product on schedule that protects their investment and their reputation for quality. This leads to several options.

  • The shelf life should drive the product availability; that is, dispensaries should not hang on to inventory past its prime.

  • Marketing traditionally places product productively. They are likely to place the highest quality product with the highest prices on the top shelf, just as you will find liquor shelved in a bar. The middle shelf contains products that are in high demand or that the dispensary wants to move. Advertised and discounted items are likely found there. And, the bottom self may contain the lowest-priced product, a sign to customers that the product is not the best.

These marketing tactics may not be found in all dispensaries, but the logic of product placement is consistent throughout most dispensary layouts.

Tip #5: Check it out. Most dispensaries display their cannabis strains in jars. Depending on the customer traffic, they will let you inspect and smell the cannabis therein. If you are a first-time shopper, you should engage the budtender in conversation about what you want. If you are a regular, you should know what you are looking (and smelling) for.

  • Look it over – closely. Quality cannabis has rich colors, but green dominates. If the product has browned, it is too old. Good product also has wispy strands of the trichomes laden with cannabinoid power. Veteran users will carry a magnifying glass or jeweler’s loupe.

  • Give it a touch. If the budtender permits, you can squeeze a bud gently to see if it is plump and slightly moist or dry and slightly brittle.

  • Take a big whiff. Much of your cannabis experience will depend on the taste and aroma. You cannot taste the product in its jar, but you can take in the plant’s aroma. It should have the smell you discovered in your research. It should be citrusy, sweet, woodsy, or more. Quality cannabis has a potent smell, so take it in.

Tip #6: Read the label. There are still no state-to-state labeling standards. However, the label should contain quality-related info. For example, it should identify the producer and processor. It must identify the strain and the THC: CBD ratio. It should also include evidence of independent third-party lab testing. The testing is no guarantee of quality or freshness, but it does confirm the product is what it claims to be.

The final test

If you are dead serious about testing the quality of dispensary cannabis, you can invest in a test kit. But, if you are the average user, you want a customer experience you can repeat at will. You must make two decisions. One, you should determine if the cannabis you buy produces the experience you want. Two, you want to patronize the dispensary the offers the shopping experience and product you want.

However, you must also remember that quality is subjective. Customers might want potency, low price, or medical therapy. If it works, it is quality cannabis to you.