The legalization of medical and adult-use marijuana in multiple U.S. states has brought marijuana dispensaries and cannabis stores to the streets of American cities like Los Angeles and Detroit. While the terms are often used interchangeably, the differences between the two are important to understand not just as a customer, but also as an entrepreneur seeking to enter the cannabis space.
Medical Vs. Recreational
A dispensary primarily serves the needs of medical marijuana patients, while a cannabis store is oriented to the recreational segment.
The different uses translate to different customer experiences. In a dispensary, patients will usually find a waiting room from which they are invited to the sales room. In the sales room, customers discuss their cannabis needs with a budtender who can answer questions and suggest products.
To enter a marijuana dispensary, a patient needs a medical prescription. Dispensaries typically keep a copy of the prescription and can track orders for future references.
Conversely, in a public cannabis store, budtenders don’t always have time to allocate to each individual customer. And since there is a wider selection of marijuana-based products for recreational use, a cannabis store usually has a larger menu than a dispensary.
Recreational cannabis stores place a bigger emphasis on the branding, packaging and the overall aesthetic of a product.
Luckily, most offer online menus that can be studied at home.
However, this doesn’t mean a dispensary won’t offer a selection of flowers, concentrates, edibles, vape pens and other products.
While both marijuana dispensaries and cannabis stores sell marijuana and derivative products, their prices tend to diverge, with lower prices generally found at marijuana dispensaries.
Why? The primary reason is that medical marijuana is taxed at lower rates in most states. For example, the excise tax on marijuana is 15 percent in California, but