Hopegrown’s Guide to Being a Medical Cannabis Patient in the Age of... Recreational Cannabis

February 17, 2018

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2018 has been an exciting year for the California cannabis industry thus far, but many medical patients have expressed concerns about the changes that recreational legalization has brought to their dispensary experience. Here at Hopegrown we want to empower you to get the care, education and medicine you need as a patient, so we decided to put together a helpful guide of questions you can ask your local dispensary to ensure that you continue to feel comfortable and supported every time you visit!

Have a lot of questions? See if you can schedule a consultation!

It’s true that dispensaries that have opened their doors to recreational consumers in addition to their medical patients and have seen a drastic increase in how many people they’re helping each day. As a result, there may be times when it feels like the staff don’t have time to answer all of your questions in depth—but don’t despair! Many dispensaries are more than happy to schedule a consultation with you at a time that is less busy and when there is a staff member available to dedicate their time to getting all your questions answered. If physically coming in is a problem, ask if there’s an email you can send your questions to or if they have time to give you a call on the phone. For those of you in the Sherman Oaks area, we recommend checking out https://www.thehigherpath.com/consultations.html to set up a time to speak to a cannabis consultant in person at The Higher Path or get your questions answered via email! If your questions are about a specific condition it can also be helpful to provide them with that information before your consultation so that the employee assisting you can do any necessary research prior to your conversation. Even though your favorite spots are busier, remember that the people who work there truly do care about helping patients and are doing their very best to navigate seeing so many people while still being able to take the time to talk to patients in depth about their conditions and how cannabis can help.

Want to avoid long lines? Check if you can order online or if they offer an express line!

Recreational cannabis is new and exciting, which means there are a LOT more people popping in to “see what it’s like” and increasing wait times. If you already know what you want or are uncomfortable with crowds, this can be extremely frustrating to deal with. Thankfully many dispensaries recognize this and have implemented ways for you to avoid the long lines as long as you know what you want to order. POS systems like Meadow and IndicaOnline allow dispensaries to have an online menu connected to their inventory so that you can see what’s available and place your order before you even leave home! At The Higher Path, you can see their entire online menu and place your order at https://www.thehigherpath.com/menu.html--they'll text you to let you know when your order is ready to be picked up and you can skip the long lines in the budroom! Some dispensaries aren’t able to offer online ordering, but they do have an express line for patients who already know what they want and don’t need a full explanation of everything in the store—when you check in at a dispensary ask if they offer an express line so that you know for the future and can come prepared with your order. If you have questions about your medicine, online ordering or the express line may not be the best option at first. We’d recommend seeing if you can schedule a consultation like we mentioned above and then once you’ve figured out which products work best for you, you can begin to utilize online ordering or the express line! 

Ask if they offer discounts on taxes for medical patients!

There’s no getting around the fact that the prices of products have increased since recreational legalization, but as a medical patient you’re entitled to discounts on some of the taxes. If you continue to obtain a doctor’s recommendation in the same way you have prior to 2018, here in Los Angeles you can save 5% on the 10% Local Tax. (You will still be charged the 9.5% Sales Tax.) Individuals that elect to register with the county for a MMIC are eligible to save a total of 14.5% on taxes in Los Angeles—5% on Local Tax and 9.5% on Sales Tax. Interested in applying for a MMIC? Check out our recent article How Do I Apply For a Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC)? on the Hopegrown Blog! It’s important for you to know which discounts you are eligible for prior to going into the dispensary so that you can check with your budtender to make sure you’re getting them. Depending on the POS system that a dispensary uses, your medical discount may not get applied automatically so never be embarrassed to make sure that the appropriate discount has been added before you pay! 

Looking for a specific product? Check their online menu or call ahead to see if it’s in stock!

There’s nothing fun about making your way over to your local dispensary and waiting in line only to find out that the only thing you came for isn’t in stock. With the influx of new recreational consumers, many dispensaries are seeing their stock move at an accelerated rate—this means that your favorite product that is usually “always in stock” suddenly might not be. Don’t panic! As manufacturers begin to understand the demands of the new market they’ll be producing the numbers needed to adequately keep dispensaries supplied. Another thing to keep in mind is that many of your favorite brands may be waiting to receive their license from the city they operate in. 

Here in Los Angeles there are numerous companies still in the licensing  process, which means that licensed dispensaries can’t receive products from them. (Legally, a licensed dispensary cannot purchase products from an unlicensed cannabis business.) This is why so many dispensaries stocked up prior to 2018, because they knew that their stock was going to need to last until certain brands were able to be licensed. It’s no surprise that for many, those stocks are dwindling due to increasingly high numbers of recreational consumers. Dispensaries are doing their best to keep their shelves stocked, but it’s always a good idea to double check that they actually have what you’re looking for before you head over—especially if you’re loyal to a specific product or brand. 

Even though your dispensary experience may be different now that cannabis has been recreationally legalized, remember that you as a patient have the power to make sure you’re getting what you need out of each visit:

*Don’t let crowds discourage your questions—ask your budtender if you can schedule a consultation at a less busy time! 

*If you already know what you want, see if your dispensary offers online ordering or an express line. 

*Save yourself some money by asking if the dispensary offers tax discounts for medical patients—and always check with your budtender before paying that your discount has been added. 

*If you’re looking for a specific product that you already know and love, call ahead to make sure that it’s in stock before you make the trip over. 

You are your best advocate and asking these questions helps your local dispensary help you! Looking for a medical dispensary in your area? Use the new Hopegrown search bar to search for a dispensary and begin your cannabis journey today!

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