Updated on January 30, 2019.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Most people, including doctors, rely on personal references to find a good marijuana dispensary. But what do you do when you don’t know anyone with firsthand knowledge of good cannabis providers? Physicians consistently get a lot of questions from their patients on how to find a good marijuana dispensary.
As a good doctor, you want to make sure you recommend a dispensary that meets your patients’ needs. Not all dispensaries are created equal, and you want to ensure your patients go to a place where they can get the medical benefits they’re seeking.
The are eight factors you should consider when evaluating the medical marijuana producers. Giving attention to the following will help you navigate your way to an excellent legal dispensary you can recommend to your patient with confidence.
1. Quality of the Weed
Every patient uses their medication for different purposes. Some use it to get relief from chronic pain. Others use it to stimulate appetite while some use it to treat a myriad of conditions. The effect they’ll get from the meds is directly related to the quality of their purchase.
A strong sativa will give instant and long-lasting relief from pain. But what about a weak sativa? Or a mediocre indica? They’ll probably fail to deliver the desired relief. Knowing the quality of a strain will help your patients seek out what’s best for them as far as potency is concerned. For this reason, the dispensary you recommend for them should have the quality that is on par with the strains they’re seeking.
2. Price of the Pot
Price is almost always the second-most-important factor to consider when looking for a good dispensary. Prices will vary from one provider to the next, from state to state and even strain to strain. Make sure the dispensary you recommend to your patients is not overcharging for a quality of product they can find elsewhere at a lower price.
The good thing is most dispensaries share their price list online, allowing you to do research and cost comparisons before you settle on one. The average price is around $15 per gram. Any dispensary charging more than that may not be worth it.
3. Selection of Marijuana Available
Most dispensaries have great quality and affordable prices, but they just don’t have a variety of choices. Variety is the spice of life and often one of the most wonderful parts about using marijuana medication, not to mention the fact that your patients might develop tolerance to a specific strain from repeated use.
Generally speaking, a dispensary with a wide selection is more apt to give your patients a better chance of finding the right balance between price and quality. This means that the dispensary should stock everything from traditional bud and edibles to concentrates and topical creams. They should also have varying strains like sativa, indica and hybrids.
4. Location and Delivery Services
No one wants to travel across states just to pick up their meds. In most cases, the dispensary closest to your patients will be their best option. With luck, they should find several in their area. This way, they can stop in and grab their meds with ease.
But in the event there are no dispensaries close by, they may have to travel farther to find one. This can be inconvenient, but it’s worth taking time to travel and get their medicine. Luckily, some dispensaries offer delivery, especially in states where marijuana is legal. If your patient is sure about the type of product they want, then deliveries can be a convenient way to get their medicine right at their doorstep.
5. Attention to Customers
For all of us, it’s the service that counts, and with dispensaries, this is even more so. Patients want to feel welcome at their dispensaries. They want to feel good when walking into a dispensary to pick their meds. If they have any questions for the staff, they should be answered professionally.
Good staff will know the effects of the various strains and what type of ailments they treat. They’ll know their patients’ preferences and even their budgets. Ideally, a good dispensary should be on par with a pharmacy or hospital. And this includes offering smoke-free lounges where every customer can review their medication options before making a decision.
6. Following Health and Safety Regulations
It goes without saying that the dispensary you choose must abide by the proper health and safety regulations. The dispensary should ensure that meds are sold in a clean environment. The marijuana should also be grown using the right cultivation methods, handled correctly and stored properly. Be wary of a dispensary that dodges questions about the origin of its products, as this may be a sign that the medicine is potentially unsafe.
7. Image Within the Community
A dispensary’s image plays a critical role in its reputation. A reputable shop will appear in such a way that it positively impacts the immediate community. For instance, the best dispensaries have policies that protect their patients and the community at large.
They don’t use intrusive advertising techniques. They provide detailed agreements that outline patients’ rights and responsibilities. They encourage awareness among the local community. And finally, they offer education for medical marijuana acceptance and contribute positively to their communities.
8. Transparency Throughout the Process
The use of transparent accounting systems when weighing and packaging products is a sign of a reputable dispensary. Reputable providers will weigh the supply right in front of their customers. They’ll ensure that cannabis products meet high standards and communicate this standard to their patients. Additionally, they’ll follow good protocols in the production and sale of products. They’ll even go ahead and test for the presence of mold and contaminants before they sell anything to their patients.
Other Helpful Tips
Remember these other rules of thumb when finding dispensaries to recommend to patients:
A good dispensary should have consistent hours of operation. You don’t want your patients to rely on a dispensary with unpredictable hours.
Pay attention to how a dispensary advertises itself. Gaudy signs with lots of colors and loud advertisements are indicators of a bad dispensary. A good dispensary should advertise itself like a pharmacy or hospital.
Heavy security in a dispensary may indicate it’s operating in an unsafe part of town or that the producer deals with unprofessional vendors.
Finally, a professional dispensary should not allow people to smoke inside.
Browse through our directory of marijuana dispensaries for your state to find full-vetted cannabis producers nearby.