Recreational and medicinal cannabis is taking over the world. Or at least Canada, the majority of states in the United States, and a handful of nations in Europe. It’s easier than ever before to source entirely legal and presumably safe weed — no more back-alley dealings, or waiting for hours for your dealer to show up to a mall parking lot. But an interesting trend has emerged in legalized markets. The illicit black market is still going on, and sometimes more prominent than ever.

Advocates bill dispensary weed as the bigger, better, and safer alternative to the bud sold on the black market. According to many reports, the black markets are booming in places like California and Oregon. Much of the illicit cannabis trade is sent out-of-state, but there are still street level dealers doing what street dealers do best. They are still selling dime bags and quarter ounces.

With so much street weed still around, you would be forgiven if you questioned whether dispensary weed was better than black market cannabis. If it’s so good, why are smokers still turning to the streets to get their product?

Let’s take a look at the risks and rewards of dispensary cannabis versus the stuff your dealer is going to sell. Is one better than the other? Customers are highly divided on the subject, which we’ll highlight throughout the following argument with a comment here and there. These comments shine a light on the diverse and very colorful opinions.



Dispensary Weed – The Basics

In only a decade, dispensaries have gone from something you could only dream of to appearing on every street corner. They have dozens if not hundreds of cannabis products, in-depth knowledge, and (hopefully) full product testing. Their prices are set, non-negotiable, and there is no waiting around for a dealer to show up.

Pros of Dispensary Weed:

Opinion from a dispensary supporter,

It’s 2018, street weed is coming FROM the dispensary.

Tested: Federal (or state) governments strictly regulate the cannabis that goes to market. Most places require all products, including raw flower, concentrates, and edibles to go through rigorous testing. At the very least the testing will determine if there are any contaminants including pesticides and fungicides. It will also check for any lingering solvents from an extraction process. If it is contaminated, it never hits the market.

In some cases, testing also shows you how much of the primary cannabinoids are present. This is very helpful for an edible, concentrate or other product with high THC content.

  • Selection: Let’s face it, getting weed from street dealer rarely comes with choice. At most, the dealer may have one, maybe two varieties. Dispensaries, on the other hand, have dozens, perhaps even hundreds. Raw flower is only part of the equation, so much of their wares are from concentrates. Vapes, edibles, topicals and anything else you could conceivably infuse weed into.
  • Legal: An obvious, but a genuine reason to buy from a dispensary is that it’s legal. You won’t risk going to jail, or getting a ticket, or having an officer take your product. Hard to imagine that only a decade ago, legal and respectable weed was just a dream.
  • Convenience: How many hours have you wasted waiting around for a dealer? Unless you have one of the few timely and trustworthy dealers in your contact list, you’ve likely had to wait around. With a dispensary, no need to wait around. Want a quick lunchtime spliff? Walk around the block to the dispensary, during their convenient hours of operation, and get what you want.
  • Mail Order & Delivery: In Canada and some states in the U.S. you can order weed straight to your house. No need to put on pants to get high! Place your order securely, sometimes even with a credit card, and wait for it to arrive.

Cons of Dispensary Weed:

  • Taxes: No matter what your opinion on taxes, you cannot deny weed is highly taxed around the world. Just like alcohol, the government knows you’ll buy it. So they tax it. It usually ranges between 10 to 15 percent, but in Washington, state cannabis is taxed by 37 percent.
  • Price: Partially due to taxes, and partially due to federal oversight, dispensary weed is more expensive. There are more levels in the chain of command, and more people need a cut. If you are buying on the street, you can negotiate. There are typically strict rules regulating the price of dispensary weed. We are aware that this is not always true. We’ve seen dispensaries in Washington (and also in other states) that are selling ounces for $40 and eights for $5.
  • Discretion: If you aren’t supposed to be smoking, or don’t want people to know, hitting up the local dispensary isn’t exactly discreet. Legal weed, in most cases, means buying it in a public place. If you have a dealer, they can meet you in many discreet corners and back alleys. Maybe even your house.

As said by one commenter:

Hell no….dispensary weed is just mass produced bullshit. It’s all a hype; people think they are getting quality but end up going for the experience more than anything. Keep it street….support your local weed dealer.

Street Weed – The Basics

Back in the days, getting your fix from your local dealer used to be the only way to get any nug at all. For some people in the strictly illegal countries, street level is still the only place. We all used to get by on buying illegal weed, but in all honesty, it wasn’t always the best experience.

Canada is one example of why dispensary weed isn’t the best. With the recent rollout of recreational cannabis in the country, many cannabis users are frustrated. How can weed be legal, but its harder to source than ever before? With only a handful of legal sources, small communities are left dry by the sudden lack of weed. With Canada as a recent example, it’s easy to see some benefit to street level cannabis.

Pros of Street Weed:

  • No Taxes: As stated, nobody is taking the street weed. The only people making a cut are the people handling it, primarily the grower and the dealer. You won’t have to pay 37 percent to anyone. Put that money you could have spent on taxed cannabis, back in your pocket.
  • Grass Roots: Not all dealers grow their own product or know the guy who grows it, but some do. Especially if you live in a rural area, or are part of an under the table compassion club, you’ll know precisely where your weed comes from. It’s like supporting your local farmers at the farmers market, but with weed. Shop local!

One commenter put it concisely,

Know your grower. Best friends with the bud man is the best way to go. That way you can know what you’re smoking.

Another opinion that they are really from the same source,

You could literally get dispensary weed or Street weed grown by the same grower. The stuff in the street is the stuff that the grower failed inspection on for mold pesticides mites whatever and the stuff in the dispensary is the stuff that the grower passed inspection on…. so if you’re willing to gamble your health to save a few dollars. Stay street.

Cons of Street Weed:

  • No Testing: Unfortunately, there are no requirements for your dealer to get anything tested. As some commenters have pointed out, the rejected dispensary weed might even go to the street. If you value your health, you may want to stick to the dispensary brands who get everything third-party tested.
  • Illegal: Not surprising, but you can get in trouble if you buy from a dealer. So too can your dealer. Even if you purchase street weed in legal regions, you can still pay a fine or go to jail if caught.
  • No Selection: Ever wonder if your dealer even knows what they are selling? It almost sounds like they are making up strain names sometimes. If you value selection, concentrates, edibles and vapes, stick to the dispensary.

As one consumer so elegantly put it,

are tomatoes sold at farmers markets better than the ones sold at the supermarket?

The Final Word, What is Better Street Weed or Dispensary Weed?

For safety, convenience, and accountability, dispensary weed wins this battle. But if you like discretion, supporting your local dealer, and the price point of cheap street weed, stick with your dealer.