A lot of states have legalized cannabis, and it might be for good reason given the plant’s proven medical benefits. As a result, dispensaries now seem to be sprouting like mushrooms after a thunderstorm, especially where recreational use is legal, and patients who have been prescribed medical marijuana can visit a dispensary to have their prescription filled. Since they seem to have similar purposes, some might wonder what sets a medical dispensary apart from your good ol’ pharmacy. Well, besides the green, here are some of the differences between them.

You might not need prescriptions

When you go to a pharmacy, you will have to present a prescription for your medication. At cannabis dispensaries, however, this may not be needed if you are over 21. This is applicable particularly in shops that are also adult-use dispensaries, where they can sell you medical and recreational marijuana.

Not needing a prescription also alters the purchasing process in dispensaries. When you buy meds at a pharmacy, the customary process is to present your doctor’s prescription, wait in line to have it filled, receive the meds in a bag, and then leave immediately. Since people of age are not required to present a doctor’s recommendation at a dispensary, some may choose to look around and shop for different cannabis products too. Dispensaries typically have menus of their products which you can peruse as you wait in line.

Pharmacists vs budtenders

Pharmacists are to pharmacies as budtenders are to dispensaries. Aside from having starkly different job titles, their roles are also very divergent. While pharmacists may be knowledgeable about the drugs they distribute, educating their customers about available medicines is not necessarily part of their job.

Budtenders, on the other hand, are trained to guide customers in finding the right cannabis product. Also, medical dispensaries typically ask first-time customers to fill out client information forms and other documents, which budtenders hand out and collect.

The atmosphere

woman working at the pharmacy

The interiors of pharmacies are designed solely for their function: as a place to buy medicine. On the other hand, given that dispensaries are not restricted to selling medical products and many of their customers buy for recreational use, the good time they are looking for can be reflected and even enhanced by the atmosphere of the dispensary itself.

The interiors of a dispensary may vary greatly, from informal and fun, to relaxed and cozy, and some are even furnished luxuriously. In general, cannabis dispensaries are mainly designed to encourage product browsing and promote safety and comfort for customers.

Cash only

Cannabis dispensaries, and the cannabis industry in general, are still kept away from the banking sector. This makes it difficult for cannabis businesses to conduct their operations, leading them to only accept cash as payment.

When you step into any marijuana dispensary, you and the state are entering into a mutual trust. The state is trusting you to responsibly use the cannabis you purchased, and you trust that the lawmakers are appropriately regulating the product and are protecting public health. So whenever you visit a dispensary, do so with discretion and common sense, if you want to support the industry.