Legal vs. Illegal Cannabis Dispensaries: Know the Difference


Today’s expanding cannabis industry has provided a lot of opportunity for new businesses, but the uneven landscape of legalization and the instability injected by a new, high-demand industry has also created some challenges. Both governments and consumers are having to look out for businesses that operate without the right licensing and regulation, and there are unfortunately quite a few. Legal dispensaries in the United States are typically easy to find because they have active marketing to bring people to them. They also tend to have higher prices, because they are paying taxes like they are supposed to.

How to Spot an Illegal Dispensary?

There are a few tell-tale signs that a dispensary operation might be operating without a license, even in an area with legal recreational cannabis. The most obvious one is when pricing is drastically below other dispensaries in the area, because often this is only possible when a dispensary bypasses taxes and licensing costs by operating outside the regulations. Customers in many jurisdictions face risks purchasing from these businesses, in addition to the risks the businesses take on by cutting corners and operating outside the law. Another common sign is a medical marijuana dispensary that is not checking cards, which is a boiler plate requirement for establishments of the type. Other signs are harder to spot, like having edibles or other products that are not found at other locations in the area. Often, these are products that are not allowed under local dispensary regulations.