How to Tell if a Dispensary is Legal Within California

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After legalization, recreational cannabis went through a series of radical changes that transformed the industry entirely. Dispensary prices sharply increased, high taxes were implemented, and the product was pre-packaged and sealed. These changes, however, did not happen in all dispensaries, with some continuing to offer low prices, free samples, and the ability to inspect products up-close. So, what happened? 

The dispensaries that follow the strict regulations set forth by California are state-sanctioned shops that follow the laws set forth from legalization. Shopping at one of these is perfectly legal, but if you chose to check out a shop with laxer rules, you’d technically be breaking the law. If you’re a cannabis lover, how are you supposed to know the difference between a legal and illegal dispensary? 

Photo by Wesley Gibbs on Unsplash

California has a high amount of unlicensed cannabis dispensaries, outnumbering legal licensed shops 3 to 1. With the process of obtaining a legal license requiring a slog through fees, bureaucracy, and availability, many shops choose to operate under the radar. While these shops were previous legal entities that served medical marijuana patients, legalization has now flipped the cards and made these shops illegal. 

While supporting legal shops may be more expensive and availability may not be as widespread, there are some benefits to doing so. Legal dispensaries offer better customer service, facilities with security, and stricter testing standards that ensure you’re getting the best safest product possible. A recent survey conducted by the Bureau of Cannabis Control tested cartridges from 45 illegal shops and found that 75% of them failed the safe amount of vitamin E acetate, a compound that has been proven to be a source of the vape crisis. 

If you want to be sure that you’re purchasing your cannabis from a licensed dispensary, there will soon be a quick way to know. Similar to that of a restaurant’s health code, the BCC has created an emblem to be placed on cannabis business fronts that will signify the establishment is a licensed, legal shop. The emblem will contain a QR code that when scanned can be pulled up special information that confirms the legality of the dispensary, along with other important info. 

In the next few months, the emblems will become mandatory for legal businesses. By doing so, it will give the public an easy way to determine if the shops they visit are legal and licensed establishments. 

Avid writer and reader with a curious mind. I'm always looking to get the most out of life! Follow me on Twitter @whatsaschoon

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