Best Practices: Shopping At A New Dispensary Part 2
It's almost time to hit the road and do some shopping, but there are still a few absolutely have to remember details that need to be gathered. An Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Patient or Caregiver Card is at the top of the list, followed closely by a state issued picture I.D. And last on the list, but no less important for purchasing medical marijuana products, is cash or a debit card. Because of the federal laws being as they are, dispensaries, growers, and processors are extremely limited in their options for financial transactions. These limitations force the industry as a whole in to cash only business model. While many dispensaries have an ATM on site, this isn't always the case, so it's best to call and inquire before heading out.
Once all the essentials are gathered and ready, it's finally time to hit the road and see some dispensaries. Here in Oklahoma, each dispensary really does seem to have its own sense of style when it comes to how they're set up. I've learned to never assume that the way things were done at Dispensary A will be the way Dispensary B will be doing things. Everything from pulling up to checking out has been a different experience for me at each of the sixteen dispensaries I've visited to date. So, when it come to aesthetics and procedural stuff, different seems to be normal for now.
Dispensaries are carrying a wide range of concentrates and edibles under various labels and brands, as well as various strains of flower (also known as bud). I'm admittedly not as versed on the topics of concentrates or packaged edibles as I am on all things flower, but, once again, there are numerous sites online which have a wealth of information on those specific topics. I've found this 14 Different Kinds of Weed Concentrate to be a good beginner guide for concentrates. And as for edibles, while I like to make my own, Tripsafe's Weed Edibles- First Timer's Guide and Safely Try Edibles are pretty fantastic for covering the basics. There are so many guides online for most of this stuff it is truly overwhelming sometimes.
Recent changes have made laboratory testing mandatory in Oklahoma for edibles, but for all other medical marijuana products testing remains voluntary. Much of the medicinal marijuana products available for patients right now has little verified information backing their content. There are dispensaries which have managed to get testing information for some of their products, but even those mostly consist of THC/CBD percentage results or are otherwise highly limited in scope. As more patients request and/or demand laboratory test results, the more it will be seen as an imperative by the industry to provide them. Until that time, all that can be done is to ask for whatever information is available on the product(s) with the understanding that there is no proof of chemical content without laboratory testing results.
Now to my favorite part, flower shopping. Here's where I can be extremely helpful. There are so many strains of marijuana with distinctive characteristics which gives each its own unique appearance, aroma, and myriad of effects on mind and body. Wikileaf.com, Cannasos.com, and Leafly.com are wonderful for giving a brief synopsis of the information available on every strain in their databases (new strains are continually being produced, so finding an unlisted strain happens from time to time). While Wikileaf tends to give more detailed information, most people find Cannasos and Leafly easier to use and understand. Using these resources while shopping helps to calm some of the confusion that comes with having a lot of options, many or all which may be completely new to most folks.
When looking for flower, I'm always mindful not only of the fact that different variations of medicinal cannabis have a wide range of physical appearances (color, tightness or looseness of the bud, size of buds, etc), but also that the amount of time taken and techniques used for curing the flower will also affect its appearance. A fairly wide berth must be given, especially considering there is a learning curve that most in the industry are having to grow through, for the looks of things. Besides, human sight can be fooled fairly easily.
Smell, on the other hand, is a completely different matter. The aroma of good marijuana is apparent even when just moving it from one container to another. Seriously, there is no need to shove one's whole head up in a jar to get a whiff. A simple wafting of the hand over the jar should bring enough of the aromatics swirling up the nostrils to identify the scent. If it doesn't, I'll ask my budtender for a "sniff" jar or container (usually a small container containing a small piece of a strain used specifically for checking the smell of the strain). Having to put a medical cannabis flower right up to your nose to smell anything is a bad sign. At the very least, most of the terpenes, which are a huge part of the entourage effect that gives so many medical marijuana patients the relief they need, will be greatly diminished in their effectiveness. Nobody wants that.
Asking questions while browsing not only helps to keep the conversation headed in a personally informative rather than market driven direction, it also helps the budtender better understand what needs or concerns are priorities for each individual patient (because they are not the same for everybody. With the industry still being in its infancy and so little testing of products being done, getting answers about such things from dispensaries can be hit and miss. Never, at any time, is anyone under any obligation to purchase anything. If personally compelling questions can not be answered, I will move on to something or somewhere else. It's that easy.
Once a decision to purchase flower has been made, some dispensaries will weigh out the amount in the presence of the patient, while others have their buds pre-packaged and waiting to be sold. Some people prefer to see their purchases weighed and request pre-packaged flower to be opened and weighed out. This is a perfectly acceptable request that no reputable dispensary would even question.
After the flower has been weighed and packaged or repackaged, it's time to ring up and pay for all purchases. This is another one of those points where many different dispensaries are doing things many different ways. Some have listed prices which include all taxes, some charge one set of taxes, & still others have two or more tax rows on the receipt. I always calculate an extra twenty percent to what I think I'm going to end up owing and throw any change I may get back into my stash jar. Hopefully sometime soon there will be some kind of consensus on how to do the tax thing so there isn't so much guess work needed on the patient's part.
Finally, before leaving out from the dispensary, account for all purchases, make sure I.D. and Medical Marijuana Card have been returned, and there is a receipt for all purchases. Now all that's left to be done is securing the purchases for transport to their destination for use. If for any reason there are any problems with any purchase, bringing to the attention of the dispensary as soon as possible. They are usually more than willing to resolve any issue in the most timely and effective means possible.
I've found, overwhelmingly in my personal experience, dispensaries are doing whatever they can to make patients feel confident and satisfied with their purchases. It's how most of them plan to make their living from here on out, so they honestly are trying to do their best to make themselves into what their patients need. They, like everything else in the industry, need to be given a chance to mature before passing final judgements.
That's going to be where I end this article on Best Practices- Dispensary Shopping. I hope you found it informative and helpful. I'll be back next week with something new. Until then, keep it Okie Tokie my friends.