As marijuana legalization picks up across the country, a number of dispensaries and stores that sell cannabis and cannabis products for both medical and recreational uses have opened in states where this is legal. Because there are contradictions in state and federal laws regarding marijuana sales and use, there’s a fair amount of confusion among users about what to expect. For example, state laws governing hours vary widely, and most limit the hours they can stay open. Only a few states allow a 24-hour dispensary to operate. Here you’ll find a quick rundown on marijuana dispensaries, what they sell, who is allowed to buy the products and the differences between medical marijuana dispensaries and recreation adult-use stores.

What is a Marijuana Dispensary?

The first marijuana dispensary in the U.S. was opened in the 1990s in San Francisco, but it wasn’t until a number of states legalized medical marijuana that the numbers began to grow. The first recreational marijuana dispensary opened in Colorado in 2014. There are numerous dispensaries and stores now in states that have legalized medical marijuana or both medical and recreational uses of marijuana.

Marijuana dispensaries and stores sell cannabis in various forms as well as accessories for its use. They may also have cannabis edibles like cookies, granola bars, honey sticks and more, as well as sprays, creams, and salves. Accessories for sale would include vape pens, glass nails, and dabbing utensils, etc. They may have flowers and buds for display only.

Knowledgeable staff, known as budtenders, are a great source of information about the products. Medical marijuana dispensaries and stores that sell recreational marijuana are taxed and regulated differently, so product prices may vary.

How is a Medical Marijuana Dispensary Different From a Recreational Store?

Medical marijuana dispensaries are more like a doctor ‘s office in their layout and service. They are licensed by their states to sell marijuana for medical purposes. Customers may have to show that they are eligible to use cannabis for medical purposes. This means that they will need to show a doctor’s prescription for a condition that is recognized as one that can be treated with marijuana, or other documentation as required by the state.

Medical marijuana dispensaries may also track patient use of cannabis. They will also collect personal and medical information like a doctor’s office. Like a doctor’s office, this information will be kept confidential. In a recreational marijuana store, customers must be over 21 years of age to enter. They will have to show a photo ID as proof of age. Products in these stores are usually taxed at higher rates than cannabis products sold for medical use.

Can You Buy Marijuana Online?

Many states have legalized the medical use of marijuana but it is still illegal under federal law. This means that shipping packages with cannabis products are still illegal. There are many sites claiming to ship to any location, but they are mostly scams.

Packages that are shipped by third party handlers like FedEx and UPS are not protected under the 4th Amendment and may be searched for marijuana. For all of these reasons, it’s best to buy marijuana in person.

To help customers save time, many marijuana dispensaries and stores have listed their products in menus on their websites. This lets you make your choices before you go to the store. Some stores will even let you reserve products so they will be ready and waiting for you to pick up when you get there.

How to Choose a Good Dispensary

As more and more states legalize some uses of marijuana, dispensaries are opening up across the country. When choosing a medical marijuana dispensary near you, location is important but it’s not the only consideration. You would want to pick a dispensary that’s clean, with staff who are knowledgeable. Variety is important, and so is quality. Many locations will let you inspect the flowers, but it’s also a good idea to inspect the actual product before you buy it.

Safety may also be a concern when choosing a dispensary or store. You want to be sure that you can make it back to your car or home safely with your purchases.

With so many new medical marijuana dispensaries and recreational use stores opening up across the country, users suddenly have access to much more variety in cannabis and cannabis products. This is a new phase in the use of marijuana in this country, and users, as well as growers and retailers, are in a learning phase about the products and regulations.

Author's Bio: 

Umar Bajwa is a blogger and professional content writer loves to write about lifestyle, fitness and health related topics.