Tuesday April 26, 2016

By Abby Hutmacher

420 Culture

I’ve been to quite a few different dispensaries in my day, each with their own unique way of handling sales. The first few places I visited conducted business in the same basic manner: I went in, sniffed a few jars of weed then placed my order with a budtender.

The budtender would write down my order, send it to the back and a few minutes later my order would pop up in a window much like a fast food joint. I was handed a bag of tightly-sealed green and instructed to refrain from opening it until I was well away from the property (and, of course, returns are strictly prohibited).

Excited as I was to buy weed so easily, the experience left a rather sour taste in my mouth (and not because of the Sour Diesel I had just picked up). Yes, I could buy weed legally -- and safely -- from a licensed dealer, but I was hoping for more. A friendly interaction, perhaps, but more so, I just wanted to know that I was getting exactly what I paid for (which was unfortunately hard to do in this pre-packaged, tightly regulated environment).

As time went by, I learned that not all dispensaries operate this way. Many will sell any amount of marijuana and weigh it out right in front of the customer before the transaction even takes place.

So why do some dispensaries still pre-package marijuana?

Convenience is certainly a factor. For popular dispensaries like the Green Solution, the time that is lost in packaging pot on the spot could result in a lost sale down the line. That’s because there is always a line full of eager customers and it always grows quickly. By pre-packaging marijuana prior to sale, budtenders can move the massive amount of customers through their doors quickly and efficiently, and they can watch their sales grow as a result.

Portion control is another reason for pre-packaging marijuana which is especially important in the eyes of the MED. Because of Colorado’s seed-to-sale tracking system, every fraction of a gram must be accounted for lest the business be fined at best or accused to back-door sales and risk losing their license at worst. Pre-packaging the product reduces this risk considerably.

Typical Child Proof ContainerTypical Child Proof Container in Colorado

Finally, many dispensaries may insist on a pre-packaged model of operation in an effort to meet product label regulations. According to the state of Colorado (pdf), all marijuana must be sold in child resistant, opaque, resealable packaging and it must be labeled properly including warnings, ingredients, storage requirements, serving sizes and expirations dates. Dispensaries may choose to prepackage their products to avoid simple employee errors that could result in major fines for the company.

No more pre-packaged bud, please!

Pre-packaged pot is not exactly appealing for many people. Not only does it restrict the customer from monitoring their purchase amount, but the quality of the cannabis leaves much to be imagined, as well. For example, there is no telling how long a package has been on the shelves, or whether or not it was cured properly to avoid mildew. It’s also impossible to know the quality of product you’ll be getting; will it be big and beautiful buds or shake and fan leaves with a few nugs tossed into the mix? By watching your budtender package your bud for you, you can rest assured that the marijuana you order is the marijuana you purchase.

But aside from the simple reassurance that watching my marijuana be packaged provides, there is a special appeal to being in a place where I am seen not as a sale but as a person with my own needs and my own personality. Dispensaries that take the time to get to know my needs, share their favorites, and hand-pick the best buds out of the jar make me more comfortable with my purchase and proud to be a part of the industry. For those who only occasionally visit dispensaries or those who need time to make a decision on their purchase, this one-on-one attention is an invaluable way to assure customer satisfaction (and a major step-up from the back alley deals).

Though pre-packaging pot sounds like an easy solution to time, budget and other restraints, it can hamper a customer’s perception of a business. Perhaps a better model can be taken from dispensaries that display the very bud to be purchased and weigh it out in front of a customer right then and there. In this way, customers can be confident knowing their cannabis be fresh, attractive, pungent, and high-quality right from the get-go (no need to get it home to find out for sure).

Some may still prefer the pre-packaged, get-in-and-get-out approach (hell, some may be totally content with marijuana vending machines, too), but others will always want dispensaries that take the time to weigh out my weed, educate me about my purchase, and maybe even ask me about my family every now and then. Because customer service is important, but my lying eyes will never deceive.

Do you have a problem with pre-packaged pot? Why or why not?

Photo Credit: John Munson

Abby Hutmacher Abby Hutmacher

Abby is a writer and founder of Cannabis Content, a marketplace designed to connect cannabis writers and creatives with businesses in the industry. She has been a professional cannabis writer since 2014 and regularly contributes to publications such as PotGuide and M&F Talent. She is also the Content Director at Fortuna Hemp, America’s leading feminized hemp seed bank. Follow Abby on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

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