How Cannabis Dispensaries Work

Many states now allow marijuana use for medical purposes. If your doctor has recommended cannabis as a way to treat a medical condition you probably are wondering how a dispensary works, and what to expect when you go in for the first time.

Dispensaries are designated by a large green cross, which is universal in the U.S.

Prior to taking your prescription in to the dispensary, you need to do a number of tasks. These include researching the various dispensaries near you, and whether the dispensary is for medical or recreational use (in states offering both). Most dispensaries are a cash only establishment, so you must know how much to bring with you, as well as any other documentation required by the dispensary and your state. Use the following overview for how cannabis dispensaries work so you can walk into the store understanding what is going to be expected of you as a consumer.

Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Differ from Recreational Dispensaries

While some states allow both recreational and medical cannabis to be sold from the same dispensary, often you only see the medical dispensary. Marijuana dispensaries used exclusively for medical treatments are often located nearer to hospitals or doctor’s offices. In a medical marijuana dispensary additional levels of security are involved in that you must produce a doctor’s recommendation, certification, medical marijuana use card or prescription. Unless you receive an exemption most medical marijuana is prescribed to patients who are 18 years of age or older.

Registering with a Dispensary

Your first visit requires you to set up an account. Expect to give them your legal name, contact information, driver’s license number and the copy of your medical marijuana card or prescription. These are kept for regulatory reasons as well as legal reasons.

Basic Layout of a Medical Marijuana Dispensary

If your state only allows medical marijuana, then the layout is much like a doctor’s office in that there is a waiting room and patients are called back one at a time to discuss their needs with a worker. The workers are referred to as budtenders. This procedure allows you privacy to discuss your medical issues as well as keep your marijuana use private if you so desire. Your purchase is often tracked and a per month limit placed on the amount you can purchase, usually by your physician.

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If you have no experience with marijuana, then the budtender can also serve as an educator as to what you can expect when taking it. Some dispensaries allow you to smell and hold the various buds in your hands before purchase. Marijuana used for medical purposes come in a wide variety of strains and strengths, and the budtender can instruct you as to the best variety to use for your condition. This can be adjusted as needed.

Good Questions and Answer for your Budtender

Cannabis comes in such wide variety and forms it can be overwhelming. Good budtenders know the right questions to ask you to tailor the type of cannabis to your medical condition, allowing them to customize the treatment. Budtenders should be very knowledgeable about the varieties and its specifications as well as the various ways in which the cannabis may be administered. However, knowing the answers to several questions he or she may ask you streamlines the process.

Cannabis Consumption

Marijuana can be taken in a few ways, even as medical grade cannabis. It can be smoked, baked into a cookie or brownie, produced into oils and drops, breath mints or capsules you swallow. Knowing which method you want to try first can be helpful to the budtender. If you have never been around cannabis when it is smoked, know that the smoke is quite pungent and lingers. If smoke in general bothers you, then edibles, drops or capsules may be best. Not all dispensaries carry all of the types, so make sure you research this when selecting a dispensary.

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If you are prescribed cannabis for pain relief, then transdermal patches are also possible delivery systems. Those suffering from anxiety disorders may benefit best from drops high in CBD, as opposed to THC resin drops (called DABS).

Your First Dose

Some medical dispensaries allow customers to take their first dose while at the dispensary. This is done in private rooms, much like a doctor’s exam room. In this way you are allowed to see how the strain you have selected makes you feel and whether you become intoxicated or not. Most medical marijuana contains high amounts of CBD but do not produce intoxication. Your body’s tolerance for the dosage, product type and the way in which you consume the medical marijuana can be gauged in this way. Edibles often take longer to deliver the effect required but can last longer. The capsules, DABS or drops enter the bloodstream quickly, but just as quickly wear off. Knowing what you prefer can help your budtender help you in your selection.

Where and When Will You Use Your Product?

Depending on your state, and its laws surrounding medical marijuana use, you may wish to keep your consumption of it private. If this is your preference, then tell your budtender you need a product that can be used anywhere. There are a wide range of discreet products designed to deliver the relief you need without alerting everyone around you to the fact you are having to take the medication.

Medical Cannabis in the Workplace

Many states, while legalizing medical marijuana use, are still in a gray area when it comes to use of cannabis in the workplace. Even workers with medical marijuana cards and prescriptions may find themselves in trouble with HR when a drug test returns a positive result. Federal and state legislators have yet to completely outline the tenants for protecting workers who rely upon the medication to function, while penalizing those who use the drug recreationally. Many court cases are still ongoing involving legal marijuana card holders losing their jobs after positive drug testing at the workplace. The best option at this time is to discuss your situation with HR and those in authority to see what might be done to accommodate you.

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