Cannabis is legal, so now what?
Cannabis became legal for adult use in California on November 9, 2016, and the much-anticipated rules and regulations surrounding sales became effective on January 1, 2018.
But that doesn’t mean you can just run down to any corner store and buy it. Only 25 percent of the cities in California are adopting regulations. Local licensing is required for a business to apply for a state license leaving many businesses that have been operating for years in a precarious position. So, whether you want to use cannabis medicinally or purely for recreational purposes, this leaves 75 percent of the population—who voted for legalization—still unable to gain safe, reliable and professional access on a local level.
Some cities will regulate medicinal cannabis only, while others will allow for recreational sales. In the entire county of San Diego, only the City of San Diego has ordinances in place to regulate cannabis businesses at this time. Many of the legally licensed shops in the City of San Diego have or are converting to recreational licenses, so if you want to use it medicinally and need solid information, your options locally are becoming increasingly narrower.
Navigating the new regulations and the world of cannabis dispensaries can be daunting, intimidating and sometimes downright scary. So, before you go to a dispensary, do some homework.
How do I find a dispensary?
Word of mouth is always the best approach. Start by asking a friend or family member. If that is not an option, search for “marijuana dispensaries near me” in your favorite search engine. But before you go, read the reviews and call ahead to inquire about products, policies and what you can expect.
Delivery or walk-in?
Your individual comfort zone will dictate the best method for receiving your products. Some prefer the discreetness and personalized service of home delivery; others like the interaction and energy of a store environment.
Location, location, location
Whether you choose delivery service or store, you should expect to be greeted in a professional and responsible manner. Delivery services should be discreet and your order should arrive in sealed/unmarked outer packaging. Physical locations should feel safe, clean, professional and easy to access. If you must enter through the back alley or unmarked doors, this may not be the best place to obtain cannabis for medicinal use. In addition to the state regulations, cities may augment the rules with their own criteria, for example the hours a store or delivery service may operate. If the location operates 24/7, it is definitely not in compliance with state or local laws.
Knowledge and experience of the staff
If you are looking to get a good night’s sleep or alleviate chronic pain, having someone in their early twenties describe a product as being “dank” may not be the type of advice you need. Having someone explain the various therapies (smoking is not the only option today), provide guidance about products that have worked for others with similar conditions/complaints, best practices for using the products, as well as proper and clear dosing guidance is paramount to helping you achieve the results you seek.
Product quality and labeling
Where are the products coming from? How and where is the cannabis grown? Is it organically grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers? Are packaged products, such as edibles or tinctures, packaged professionally and properly labeled? The new regulations are in a transition period, with the industry being given six months to be in full compliant. Ask if the products are 2018 complaint. And if they are not, at the very least, there should be a brand, product name, lab results, cannabinoid ratios and ingredients. If edible, nutritional information should also be listed. In addition, there should be clear instructions for use.
Bring along a friend or family member
Make sure to bring a trusted family member or friend with you. From the first visit to the doctor who recommends cannabis to a visit to your first dispensary, the information can be overwhelming. As you navigate this new world, it’s important to have some extra guidance and someone to act as a sounding board, provide moral support or offer their own expertise.
Once you make a purchase, please be responsible. Treat your cannabis and cannabis infused products with the same diligence you would alcohol or prescription medications. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery during or after consuming cannabis and be sure to keep all cannabis products locked up or safely stored so that children or pets do not have access.
Learning about the new therapies, techniques, selecting the best products within a person’s comfort zone, and dosing is key to achieving desired results when exploring the use of cannabis. All of this requires guidance from those experienced in these areas and who know how to communicate clearly with adults of all ages. Take the time to research, read reviews and ask questions before choosing a dispensary. It may take a few attempts, but you’ll find the place that is best for you.
Robbin Lynn is the co-founder of The One Minute Cannabist Education Center in Oceanside. For more information, visit OneMinuteCannabist.com.
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