Cannabis Dispensaries: All Your Questions Answered

Denys Svirepchuk
Denys Svirepchuk

Denys Svirepchuk is a dynamic writer at AskGrowers known for his engaging and informative content. His articles often blend entertainment with education, offering readers a unique perspective on the cannabis industry. Denys is particularly adept at crafting content that ranges from fun and quirky ideas, like cannabis-themed gifts to more serious topics such as industry news and legalization updates. He also provides in articles valuable guides and lifehacks for cannabis enthusiasts, delving into the specifics of cannabinoids and other intricate aspects of cannabis. Denys' work is characterized by its diversity making him a versatile and much-appreciated contributor to the cannabis community.



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Cannabis Dispensaries: All Your Questions Answered

Dispensaries are the only place where you can legally buy recreational marijuana in the United States. Today's dispensaries are basically the comfortable shops that offer flowers, edibles, extracts, prerolls, seeds, and everything else, from THC topical patches to weed cartridges for your pod device like Juul. Typically, the dispensaries are government-regulated shops that sell the products that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and you can find such shops in 14 states (as for medical marijuana, 35 states have legalized it to date). The amount of weed you can possess depends on the law of the state you are in. Only adult customers (21+) can legally buy recreational marijuana (as for medical cannabis, this age can be lowered to 18-20 with a medical cannabis card). The addresses of marijuana dispensary near you.

What Are the Two Types of Dispensaries?

There are two types of marijuana dispensaries: recreational and medical ones. As you can see from the name, the main difference is the types of cannabis sold in these dispensaries. But it's not the only difference.

Read Also: Guide To Buying Cannabis

Medical Dispensaries

To buy marijuana at a medical dispensary, you need to have a medical prescription. You also need to take your ID with you. The buyer doesn't need to be an adult (older than 21 years), because, in lots of states, medical marijuana can be used to treat even children. Despite there are still no national standards, the sellers undergo training to know how to advise patients (because when we're talking about medical marijuana, it's more like patients, not just buyers).

Sellers of Medical Dispensaries

It means that you can ask questions to the sellers who work at such dispensaries, and they will respond in a professional way. Typically, they can advise customers about delivery methods, strains, dosage, different plants, etc. If you want to get guidance and advice, it's the medical dispensary workers who can help you.

Recreational Dispensaries

First of all, recreational dispensaries sell recreational marijuana. This type of cannabis has higher Tetrahydrocannabinol content — this chemical contributes to euphoria and pleasure, which means marijuana with high THC content can make you feel high. Another major difference is that you don't need to have your medical card or prescription to buy cannabis at recreational dispensaries — the buyer does only have to take his ID card or driver's license with him. Of course, the buyer must also be at least 21 years old.

What Are the Two Types of Licensing Options for Dispensaries?

There are 17 types of marijuana business licenses — some of them are perfect for indoor growers, the others are for manufacturers, testing labs, and distributors. The dispensaries owners must apply for the Type 10 license, and this license is divided into two types: Type 10 and Type 10A.

The first one, Type 10, is a general license for the facilities where medical cannabis/cannabis products/devices are offered. This type of license can also be issued to the dispensaries that provide medical marijuana delivery services.

The second one, Type 10A, is a license that is issued to the dispensers who have no more than 3 dispensary facilities (production centers, retail locations).

There is also a Type 12 license (microbusiness), that is often used by cannabis retailers. If the retailer cultivates, manufactures, and sells/distributes marijuana in less than 10000 sq ft of space (929 sq m), the Type 12 license is what this retailer needs. Type 9 license is very similar to Type 10/10A, but with one major difference: it's usually reserved for the businesses that only conduct sales exclusively by delivery.

To obtain a license, the dispensary must implement certain protection measures — there must be limited-access areas (accessible only to personnel), all the products must be stored in locked rooms(safes/vaults) to prevent loss/theft. All the licensed dispensaries must notify the police and the licensor in case of any theft, loss, criminal activity, or any other security flaw.

Dispensaries in the United States

What do marijuana dispensaries look like? There are some development standards that must be met by every dispensary in the United States. Of course, the laws and standards can be different from one state to another, but there are always some common standards and permit conditions. Thus, according to the standards, a dispensary must be located in a permanent building, not in a trailer/motor vehicle. The distance between dispensaries and schools, libraries, churches and childcare centers must be at least 500/1000/1500 feet. It depends on the state — thus, in California, the dispensary can be located 501 feet from a residential zone, while in Arizona, this distance must be at least 1,500 feet. So, a dispensary is always located in a permanent building and it can't be located, say, between two houses. Of course, not every dispensary looks the same — but they all have much in common. They look very much like pharmacies.

Standards for Dispensaries

In the 1960s and 1970s, the head shops looked like caves. Posters, smoke, music, "freedom vibe" — we believe that it’s quite easy to understand what kind of shops they were. Now, everything has changed, and you don't have to feel like the 1960s to buy cannabis today. The dispensaries are not like head shops anymore — almost every dispensary in the United States looks like a pharmacy now with a delivery infrastructure, professional staff on hand to provide advice and a security guard at the entrance.

Dispensaries in Other Countries

The United States of America is the leading weed market in the world right now. But it's not the only country that has legalized marijuana and therefore it's not the only country where you can find a dispensary/a cannabis shop, even if they are not called so.

  • In Canada, the cannabis infrastructure is very similar to what we have in the United States. Canadians have lots of dispensaries and cafes, and it's often called one of the world's best places for those who are seeking marijuana experiences. Thus, you can possess and carry up to 30 grams (!) of cannabis in this country, and the legal smoking age is only 19 (18 in Quebec). They have government-regulated shops that sell everything, from pre-rolls to edibles. Canada does even have lounges and cafes where you can smoke a blunt without getting arrested — but keep in mind that these cafes do usually have quite strict rules (such as paying a membership fee/providing ID/etc).
  • The Netherlands. This country has the oldest coffee shops, as they call them — in such shops, one can buy and consume cannabis and cannabis-related products, like edibles. In Amsterdam, anyone older than 18 can go to the dispensary and buy cannabis. Some shops here are pharmacy-like stores (like in the United States), while the others are much more casual.
  • In Mexico, one can find tens of dispensaries and cannabis delivery services. You can't smoke in the street in this country, but you can legally carry up to 5 grams of cannabis. There are some shops (mostly in the capital of the country), such as Canamo Shop, that sell cannabis and related products.
  • Jamaica is another country that decriminalized weed. It's not that difficult to find the dispensaries in almost all the major cities — these shops usually look more casual than the dispensaries in the United States, but the biggest difference is that they usually have smoking lounges where a tourist can sit back, relax, and enjoy a joint, a bowl, or an edible. Another interesting thing about the dispensaries in this country is that there is always a medical practitioner who can write you a prescription even if you don't have a medical certification from the USA.

Discover the Best Seeds to Buy in Dispensaries

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Ice Cream Runtz Seeds
  • Hybrid Type
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from $65
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Grand Daddy Purple Seeds
  • Indica-dominant hybrid Type
  • 1oz - 14oz (40g - 400g) Yields
  • Mediterranean Climate
from $65
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Blue Dream Seeds
  • Sativa-dominant hybrid Type
  • 11oz - 14oz (300g - 400g) Yields
  • Sunny, Mediterranean Climate
from $65

Things to Look When Choosing a Store

Not all dispensary stores are equally good. We’ll talk about the three most important things to consider when choosing a weed dispensary here.


There are lots of marijuana strains, and not all of them will totally work for you. The larger selection a shop has, the better it is for you — because if the dispensary doesn't have a wide assortment of strains, it might be difficult for you to find the strain you'll like. Pay attention to the dispensary menus before going to a shop — the menus are usually available online, and that's the thing that can save your time. The same goes for weed-related products and accessories — some dispensaries offer hundreds of items, while others don't. You will most likely need to buy accessories as well as marijuana itself, so it would be wise to choose the dispensary that offers as many accessory products as possible.

Quality of the Budtenders

Experienced and professional budtenders can teach you about different marijuana strains, they can explain how it works and what product will work best for you. If a budtender is not just a professional but is also a friendly type of person, that's perfect.


It's very simple: the good dispensaries have good reviews, the bad ones have bad reviews. To make sure you're going to buy weed at a good shop, google the customer reviews and read the reviews on Facebook — that's usually enough to understand what kind of shop you're dealing with.

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