| February 12, 2020

With Weed Now Legal in Illinois, Here’s How You Pick the Best Dispensary

Nqaba Matshazi

Nqaba has been working as an investigative journalist for the last 10 years. He has written for various media outlets across the world. Nqaba has been working as an investigative journalist for the last 10 years. He has written for various media outlets across the world.

As more states legalize marijuana in various forms — medicinal and/or recreational — more dispensaries are opening up shop in cities around the country, and more weed novices are dipping their toes into marijuana use. Things are no different here, at home, in Illinois.

On one hand, the new availability of weed has opened up a wealth of opportunity for anyone passionate about marijuana and its related products. No longer do weed enthusiasts need to break the law to partake in a relatively safe and even beneficial hobby.

What’s more, the burgeoning marijuana trade is boosting the American economy and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs through disparate industries like agriculture, retail, and medical research.

On the other hand, not all dispensaries are run by knowledgeable and altruistic marijuana purveyors.

Some dispensaries lack informed staff or quality products, and customers might easily overpay for products they neither need nor want. If you don’t have much experience buying weed legally, you need to learn how to identify a high-quality dispensary to avoid making such mistakes.

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Know Your Nearby Dispensaries

First, you need to make a list of nearby dispensaries worth visiting. You can take note of dispensaries that you drive or walk by during your day-to-day life, but you are likely to miss a number of potentially high-quality dispensaries using this method. Instead, you should use a tool like this Illinois weed map to highlight all the dispensaries in your area.

Once you have a list of dispensaries, you should use the web to perform some preliminary research. Some weed maps allow you to see what kinds of products are available at different shops, which will save you time if you are hunting for a particular strain, concentrate or weed tool.

You should also look into ratings and reviews of different dispensaries — though you should take in this information with a grain of salt because reviewers tend to be a bit overly critical. You should try to weed out (pardon the pun) any dispensaries that don’t fit your subjective requirements during this stage, so you will have less work down the line.

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Understand Dispensary Requirements

In all states where medical and/or recreational marijuana is legal, dispensaries must be properly licensed to sell the good green. You might benefit by learning the licensing requirements in our state, so you can identify dispensaries that aren’t adhering to the rules and steer clear of them.

For example, Illinois requires dispensaries to check IDs to ensure that consumers are over 21 years of age. In states where only medical marijuana is legal, you should need to proffer your medical marijuana card or perhaps a prescription from a doctor. Dispensaries that don’t check IDs or cards could be cutting corners in other ways, too, and you don’t want to suffer for their non-compliance to state law.

Interview the Dispensary Staff

Customer service is an important element of any retail experience, but it is especially imperative in a dispensary, when so much of the product is kept under lock and key and where so many customers need personalized care. You shouldn’t be shy about interrogating the staff about the dispensary and its products to test their knowledge and passion — though it is worth noting that some states place regulations on how staff can and cannot help you. For instance, if you are buying recreational weed, your attender won’t be able to advise you on medicinal benefits of different products or strains, but staff at strictly medical marijuana dispensaries often can.

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Some questions you might consider asking dispensary staff include:

  • Where does your dispensary source its marijuana?
  • Are there any health risks associated with different marijuana products?
  • How often do you get new products or strains?
  • What are the legal limits for marijuana possession and consumption?

These questions should help you suss out whether the staff knows their stuff and how the dispensary overall operates. At the best dispensaries, budtenders will likely ask you questions, too, to ascertain your marijuana comfort level and make better suggestions for products you will enjoy.

Review the Dispensary Branding and Ambiance

You probably wouldn’t by anything from a grocery store that was ill-lit and messy, boasted unfamiliar products and played eerie music — and the same should be true for a dispensary. Like any store, your dispensary should have a pleasant ambiance that helps you feel at-ease, and all of its branding materials, like the dispensary’s signs and logos, should add to the shop’s legitimacy. You can trust your gut on this one; if any element of a dispensary gives you a bad feeling, you can go someplace else.

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Compare Product Availability and Pricing

Finally, as you travel from dispensary to dispensary, you should be mindful of the products and prices along the way. You want to be certain that your go-to dispensary has the products you want and use, so serially low stock in your favorite products could demonstrate that a dispensary doesn’t prioritize what you need. Then again, if a product is unavailable at many dispensaries, you might be out of luck in your area.

Pricing will vary from region to region, but if you are shopping within the same city, you should be able to identify a standard price point for common products like bud. If a dispensary departs wildly from the average — either way too expensive or tantalizingly cheap — you should be skeptical. It is better to pay a bit more for a quality product than risk your health on the cheapest herb you can find.

More dispensaries means more choice, which is always good for the consumer. However, if you aren’t doing your due diligence, you could be buying weed from a sub-par source. By vetting the dispensaries in your area, you are sure to find a shop that suits you — and offers the best products and prices, to boot.

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