Why It’s Important to Buy From a Reputable Cannabis RetailerHERB
Cannabis is big business in the U.S. Thirty-seven states now have a medical marijuana program in place, and 18 states allow recreational cannabis use—and the number continues to grow every year. But whenever a new market opens up, there’s an element of “buyer beware” that goes along with it. Not every cannabis retailer is reputable (or even operating legally, for that matter), and you have to be especially cautious when buying cannabis online.
So how can you tell if a cannabis retailer is legit? There are a few key things to watch out for.
A Reputable Cannabis Retailer Obeys the Law
Whether you’re walking into a dispensary or buying cannabis online for pickup or delivery, you should notice certain details. For instance, a reputable business will always ask you for ID and will always record your transaction into the state’s track-and-trace system (a requirement in every legal cannabis market in the U.S.).
There are other smaller details to look out for. For instance, in California, every licensed dispensary has a QR code at the entrance that you can scan with your phone. The QR code will take you to a government website where you can view the dispensary’s licensing information. When you consider that there were nearly 3,000 unlicensed dispensaries in California in 2019, it’s easy to see why this information is extremely important to look for if you’re browsing California cannabis brands and retailers.
In addition, there are smaller details to look for. If a dispensary is offering clearly illegal products like psychedelics, it’s probably not licensed. If it operates outside of standard in business hours (6 a.m. to 10 p.m. in California), that’s another red flag.
Cannabis retail licenses are extremely difficult to obtain and incredibly expensive. Most legal cannabis establishments will go to tremendous lengths to follow the law to the letter—otherwise, they could face huge fines or even loss of licensure.
A Credible Cannabis Retailer Doesn’t Ship Cannabis Through the Mail
While we’re on the subject of obeying the law, you have to be especially careful when buying cannabis online. Shipping cannabis via USPS, UPS, or any other shipping provider is strictly against the law. And transferring cannabis across state lines (whether by mail or any other means) constitutes a federal drug trafficking offense. So if an online cannabis retailer offers to send you Ember Valley flower via Express Mail, you’re not dealing with a reputable retailer.
When buying cannabis online, you should only shop with local retailers who offer delivery or in-store pickup services. For instance, if you live in Los Angeles and are browsing California cannabis brands, you can opt for cannabis delivery to your home. Just note that cannabis delivery isn’t available everywhere. In Arizona, for example, delivery is available to medicinal patients but not to recreational customers (at the time of this post).
There are certain exceptions to the “no cannabis through the mail” rule:
- You can have CBD oil shipped to your home as long as it’s hemp-based and not cannabis-based (i.e., it contains no more than .3% THC).
- You can have certain cannabis accessories—like dab rigs, pipes, and dugouts—shipping through the mail as long as they contain ZERO traces of cannabis (note that certain states may impose restrictions on shipping cannabis paraphernalia, so it’s important to check the laws where you live).
- Some seed banks will ship cannabis seeds through the mail, often with the disclaimer that their seeds are “for collectors” or “not intended for growing.” Because the seeds themselves don’t actually contain THC, this presents a legal gray area. Still, it’s generally best to avoid buying cannabis seeds through the mail altogether, especially if you live in a state or jurisdiction where cannabis is illegal.
For best results, buy from your local licensed dispensary or delivery service. They’ll be grateful for the business and you’ll be able to count on a premium product that doesn’t get lost (or worse, intercepted) in transit.
A Reputable Cannabis Retailer Will Give You a Certificate of Analysis
Legal cannabis has to meet certain requirements. It must be grown in the same state where it’s sold, it must meet any maximum THC limits imposed by the state, and it must be third-party lab-tested. Lab testing is critical, as it’s a huge part of what sets legal cannabis apart from black-market cannabis.
A lab test should confirm the cannabinoid concentrations in the product and also ensure that there are no impurities, bacteria, or residual solvents. When purchasing a cannabis product, you can view the results of the lab tests for yourself–just ask for the Certificate of Analysis.
If a cannabis retailer refuses to provide these lab test results or doesn’t offer the results on their website, take your business elsewhere.
A Legitimate Cannabis Retailer Stocks Reputable Brands
When exploring any cannabis retailer, make sure to research the brands that are offered. A quality retailer will partner with trusted brands that have a reputation for delivering excellent products.
For instance, if you’re visiting a dispensary in California, you might notice top California cannabis brands like Kiva, Bloom Farms, Korova, and Old Pal. You might not recognize all of the names right away, but they’re easy to research.
A Reputable Cannabis Retailer Will Come Highly Recommended
Finally, just remember to do your homework. It might seem obvious, but this critical step is overlooked. When comparing retailers, look at their online reviews. What are customers saying about them? How long have they been in business? Have they received any awards or accommodations? Are they accredited by the Better Business Bureau?
It might take a bit of time, but if you do your homework ahead of time, it will save you a lot of headaches and potentially even legal trouble in the long run. There are a lot of excellent cannabis businesses out there; you just have to take the time to find them.