The influx of new licenses or dispensaries opening their recreational space will mean new locations, where everyone will be able to shop favorite products. This will be celebrated by many who face long waits, empty shelves, and a lack of promotional sales. The opening of these new locations will come with a grain of salt because the service might not be up to standards immediately. I recently shopped at a new dispensary and found the experience to be lackluster. Having worked and managed aspects of a medical dispensary, I want to review all points of service for those license holders hoping to open new locations without considering the patients. I found three major areas of interest that you can watch for when shopping somewhere new to know right away if that new location will need some time and space to adapt to standards that are expected.
The shopping experience I had is best summed up as mediocre at best. The products on the shelves were familiar but shopping locally doesn’t always guarantee local comfort. I found that a majority of the staff was hired from out of state, with little to no knowledge about products here in Arizona, let alone what was best for relief sought. The hiring of locals seems like a given, but perhaps it is easier to source knowledgeable people from everywhere. I will put forth that it is just as easy to skirt the laws and standards by hiring out of state. I want someone who has experienced the best dispensaries here as well as the worst available locally. If I am being helped by someone from out of state who is a huge cannabis enthusiast, it will only carry me so far. The reason being that in their home state, cannabis might not be legal, extracts might be outlawed, or only edibles might be available. This makes their experience unique but difficult to find common ground if they know nothing about products I’ve used for years. When I go to the dispensary, I expect to be educated about the medicine available to me rather than me teaching the staff about local brands.
Learning the Law
The laws that have been in place in Arizona don’t have much leeway because my patient consultant is from somewhere else. If I’m stopped outside a dispensary with a purchase that doesn’t have the correct stickers, documentation, or seal on the exit bag because my tender didn’t know, it could result in jail time for me. A location learning the tides of business might set parameters for service that limit interactions to a certain time limit. This can cause my order to be rushed, and result in mistakes being made that could cause me great inconvenience. The same could be said for those new dispensaries hiring people who don’t know that AZ law prohibits cannabis use on the property. The loss of an ATO (authority to operate) because the new guy was hitting his vape in the break area is a reality for management or ownership. The management should be knowledgeable of the law, local standards of practice, and how to best connect with their customers.
Management will be the first and last foot in the door for businesses at every level of service. I will hold the business, employees, and standards of service to the example set by the leadership of a dispensary. My recent experience saw a lack of accountability at every level that started with management. My patient advisor did not know the specials for the dispensary and I was told the special I had come for wasn’t happening. I decided to make a different purchase, and had a good chat with my budtender. In our interaction, I found my advisor to be poorly trained when they forgot to put my order in the bag. Sensing something was amiss, I checked the bag before leaving and went back to speak with a manager. The manager I spoke with immediately threw the patient advisor under the bus, saying they didn’t know how to do the job. When confronted with their role of teaching as leadership, I was met with hostility in the fact that they were not “from here”. I then asked about the special I had come for, to which I was told “Yes, that’s today despite my advisor saying otherwise. I asked for an exchange on the purchase but was told it was not an option because this person was a team-leader, not a manager, despite introductions that led me to believe otherwise.
I will never hold judgement or a negative experience against a business because I know the challenges of starting new. I will hold accountability for those who cannot lead effectively. I will hold accountability for those who don’t bother to learn the law or nuances of their products. That said, I cannot stress attention to detail and being open to helping those new to the cannabis industry enough. The journey to normalizing cannabis will have many challenges, but those who lead the industry or support it, need to ensure proper standards of practice. Check the service being provided, pay attention to the service and recognize that it is a direct reflection of those who lead. As our industry continues to grow, so do the challenges, both old and new. I welcome and have the highest hopes for anyone new to the cannabis industry, as well as businesses that hope to further progress. We just need those in leadership to be of the highest integrity and moral character for the benefit of anyone seeking cannabis to aid in ailment.
Adrian Ryan was born in New Mexico and attended school since elementary in Arizona, his time growing up split between the two states. He hopes to work towards recreational cannabis, enjoys reading, writing, film, music, and also writing music.