What Is a Marijuana Dispensary? This Is What You Need to Know

Marijuana in Jars

Marijuana use is now legal in nearly half of the United States.

Recreational marijuana is legal in 11 states. Medical use is legal in 33. 

If you live in one of these states, you might have seen dispensaries in your area.

Maybe you’ve heard the benefits of cannabis and want to try it for yourself. Or, maybe you’re looking for a new social hobby.

Want to learn what is a marijuana dispensary? Read on for a guide on what to expect. 

Marijuana Dispensary Overview

The first recreational marijuana dispensary opened in Colorado in 2012.

However, the drug was illegal across America since 1970. Richard Nixon declared a “War on Drugs” in which he classified marijuana as a “gateway drug.” While cannabis is still illegal federally, a majority of states have at least decriminalized usage. 

Most hospitals won’t “dispense,” or distribute, marijuana supplies. Instead, marijuana dispensaries distribute cannabis products to consumers. 

Recreational vs. Medical 

While more states allow medical use, you’ll need a doctor’s referral.

Medical dispensaries need a doctor’s note and documentation varying by state. Some qualifying medical conditions include cancer, seizures, migraines, and PTSD. 

Different regulations apply to each. Medical cannabis is usually cheaper than recreational but harder to get. Recreational stores might offer a wider variety of products with higher levels of THC. 

Types of Products 

Stepping into a dispensary for the first time can be overwhelming. The lingo around cannabis can feel like another language.

Different products have different levels of THC or CBD, and certain strains can produce different effects. For example, a bud of the sativa strain with 30% THC can give you a more energetic high. Buds higher in CBD offer gentle relaxation and pain relief. 

Your average dispensary will offer a range of edibles, flowers, concentrates, and more. 

What To Expect 

What to expect depends on if you choose a medical or recreational facility. For both, you’ll need a valid ID. 

Since regulations are strict, expect to go through security. Once you’re inside, you’ll encounter a colorful world of products. 

Budtenders are available to help if this is your first time. They can direct you to products within your budget.


Before you go, read store and product reviews. Check the menus online and note which products you’re interested in.

If you’re unfamiliar with the cannabis world, brush up on your terminology. You can use helpful apps to find the best weed for your needs. 

Most importantly, check local laws. Some states do not allow public use, and legal possession amounts vary by state. 

Love at first bud? If the cannabis life is for you, then you can open a marijuana dispensary yourself. 

What Is a Marijuana Dispensary? 

Marijuana usage might date back as early as 2727 B.C. 

From lotions to chilling with friends, cannabis has a variety of uses. As more states legalize marijuana every year, now is the time to try it yourself. 

So what is a marijuana dispensary? A place to learn from your local budtenders, try new strains, and enjoy the cannabis life! 

For more cannabis tips, check out the rest of our blog!