How to Find a Licensed Dispensary Near Me

how to find a licensed cannabis dispensary

Legal medical marijuana in the U.S. isn’t as simple to acquire as one might expect. The various state regulations, cannabis strains, THC, CBD, edibles, oils, and other cannabinoid-laced products can be quite confusing.

Wondering, “How can I find a licensed dispensary near me?” Keep reading for the best options.

how to find a licensed cannabis doctor

How to Find a Safe & Trustworthy Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Getting medical cannabis isn’t like grabbing your prescription at the local pharmacy; it involves state regulations. Some states require registration and a medical cannabis card (MMJ card), not to mention a physician’s recommendation. Then, with all of this information in hand, it’s time to find a licensed dispensary to begin making your purchases.

Some states are new to the world of medical cannabis – these typically have just a few dispensaries. However, other states – like California – tend to have thousands.

So how can you tell which dispensaries are offering safe and effective cannabis products?

One physician at CannabisRxHealth said that this is one of the biggest challenges in the medical cannabis sector. When new rules impact dispensaries, it becomes increasingly difficult to enforce the rules. This can result in the shutting of unlicensed dispensaries and imposing costly infractions.

The main issue here is finding the unlicensed dispensaries and enforcing the rules. For example, with over a thousand dispensaries throughout Los Angeles, only a few hundred of them are actually licensed. So while the legality issue here is problematic, performing due diligence to find good dispensaries is essential.

Finding a licensed dispensary in states where medical cannabis is legal is easy. For instance, New York only permits medical-use marijuana. With this being the case, the state has around 10 dispensary businesses and each of those operations has four locations. Minnesota also has medical marijuana legalized with two dispensary operations managing four locations apiece.

Most of these states have government website pages showing cannabis laws. These pages usually include information about how to register for medical marijuana cards and lists of licensed dispensaries.

how to find a licensed cannabis dispensary bcc

The Bureau of Cannabis Control’s Effort

The BCC has made an interesting stride that the rest of the U.S. should follow. Since it’s not always easy to tell the difference between licensed and unlicensed cannabis dispensaries, the BCC create an emblem that it places on legal cannabis operations.

The emblems for legal cannabis businesses each have a unique QR code. Upon scanning the QR code, consumers can pull up the business’s licensing information fast.

If you’re unfamiliar with QR codes, you simply scan it with your smartphone. You’ll open your smartphone’s camera, aim it over the QR code, and click the notification that comes up on your screen. In Cali, industry personnel involved in cannabis distribution and delivery will need a QR code on-hand too.

If the business lacks a QR code, you can look at This site lets you search for licensing information by location, license type, and more. You can also check this LA-specific map.

how to find an unlicensed cannabis dispensary

How to Find an Unlicensed Dispensary

Some states have legalized recreational cannabis sales. In California, for example, the state legalized adult-use cannabis on January 1st, 2018. This came after over twenty years of medical-only cannabis. Ultimately, this changed Cali’s industry from offering cannabis for sniffing and viewing pleasure to carrying it in pre-packaged and sealed containers. Of course, this also meant a rise in the price.

For those looking to bypass the hefty upcharge – up to over 40% in some counties – how do you find an unlicensed dispensary these days?

Unlicensed dispensaries – also known as the black market – is killing the legal industry. With the discouragingly high taxes and regulatory costs of doing business, it’s hard for licensed cannabis dispensaries to compete. The experience offered at unlicensed dispensaries is also different.

Customers still have the opportunity to inspect cannabis flower, see the buds get weighed, and sometimes receive free cannabis products just for finding the black market shop. This is the answer for price-conscious consumers. But as far as safety is concerned, just because you know how to find an unlicensed dispensary doesn’t make the products safe.

Black market cannabis dispensaries save money by bypassing testing for safety and content. Sometimes, cartridges can fail the vitamin E acetate tests, which contributed to the vape crisis. The flower and oil can also contain heavy metals and harmful chemicals.

Let’s not forget, shopping at unlicensed dispensaries is illegal. Anyone concerned about the risks of shopping at unlicensed dispensaries should know how to find licensed cannabis dispensaries.

Now that you know how to tell if your dispensary is legal, which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

Louis Levey is the Content Success Manager and Founder at No Strings Content. He's passionate about helping cannabis businesses use content to attract, educate, and convert audiences. His hometown is Boca Raton, Florida, but he currently lives and works remotely in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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