Medical Marijuana Dispensary vs. Pharmacy: Top 5 Differences

Medical Marijuana Dispensary vs. Pharmacy: Top 5 Differences

So you’re ready to go shopping for the green goods, hah? When comparing a regular pharmacy experience with a medical marijuana dispensary, it’s like people from India might say: “Same, same — but different.” Yes, like any pharmacy, you will likely need assistance. Yes, there will be shelves displaying all kinds of wares in various types of packaging. But that’s about all that’s similar.

Here are the top differences you’ll find in a medical marijuana dispensary.

1. The collective garden. Marijuana dispensaries operate based on a collective garden principle — not so much legal fiction as much as legal…shall we say, creativity. Since an individual can procure the rights to purchase x amount of marijuana, pooling their collective rights together provides enough volume for a business to operate. In addition, the collective setup is practical because average individuals do not want to harvest, prepare, and package their own products in any agricultural industry these days, including marijuana. (When’s the last time you grew your own lettuce, much less made your own herbal remedy?) The marijuana producers provide product to the collective and if their products sell, they collect the profits while providing a cut to the collective. . If it’s your first visit, you will fill out paperwork signifying that you are joining the collective and will pay for product with monetary “donations.” You can join as many collectives as you want.

2. The bureaucratic “Green Card” and paperwork. As of now, only a few states have legalized recreational marijuana. Therefore, in states where recreation use has not been legalized, marijuana dispensaries cannot sell to you without a medical reason. This means a doctor must provide you a license to purchase medical cannabis, and you need to present this permit every time you enter a marijuana dispensary.

3. No checks, please. Finances are still tricky for the legal marijuana industry because it’s only legal on a state-level, whereas banks are bound by federal laws. Therefore, it’s still largely a cash-based industry. Some might take credit cards.

4. Billboard-invisible. Selling ad space in public forums has a similar legal “no-no” to the money handling because public spheres, such as highways, are often under federal auspices. Therefore, marketing medical marijuana is largely online-based, or relegated to private community magazines. To find a local dispensary, try here.

5. Kid in a candy store. Once you’re past the paperwork, you might feel a bit overwhelmed by the offerings. From pot candy bars to cannabis ointments to ingestible hemp oils, the choices are vast. And that’s what the people behind the desk are there for. Just describe your symptoms and they will suggest the best options for you. That having been said, there might be some trial and error before you find what works best for you. Since legalization is only recent, the research is minimal and largely anecdotal. But that could be a good thing because you are your best anecdote for trying out your most successful methods for medical relief.

Now that you know more of what to expect, we wish you a good first experience toward finding the right solutions for your health issues. Thankfully, the legalities are paving the way for more people to find the welcome relief from cannabis that they have been longing for.


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