IF WE ARE WHAT WE EAT, isn’t it fair to say the same about what we smoke? In the days before Prop 215, those of us who weren’t lucky enough to have a direct connection usually called a guy who called a guy and then we waited to see what showed up. Sometimes it was righteous, sparkly bud, or by today’s lingo, dank. Sometimes it was crappy Mexican shake, but if that was all that was available, we smoked it.

Since 1996, Californians have had the option of continuing to buy their cannabis on the street or going through the process of obtaining an MMJ recommendation and visiting a dispensary or ordering through a delivery service to make their selections.

But just because it’s legal under Prop 215, doesn’t mean what you get from a dispensary is any better than that crappy Mexican bag. So it’s important that consumers ask tough questions about the source of the cannabis they are consuming. And equally important that dispensary operators openly provide this information to their members.

A comment we hear frequently from new members is how they experienced less than positive effects such as allergic reactions, burning sensations or chemical tastes/odors from cannabis purchased elsewhere. While some allergic reactions are due to the strain or terpenes within the cannabis, we are not unconvinced that unwanted side effects might be coming from chemical processes used by the growers to enhance their crops. Use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers in cannabis is no different in detrimental effects than what might be used in our non-organic food supply.

Come 2018, new MMJ regulations regarding testing, clear labelling and proper storage will be become mandatory for all dispensaries. In the meantime, we find it good business to provide this level of service to our members now. If you care about what you put into your body, here are some good questions to ask your dispensary.


How and where is the cannabis grown?

Does the dispensary do their own growing or do they work with growers? How is the cannabis grown? Indoor, outdoor, greenhouse? Are organic practices in place? How is this managed? What type of fertilizers or nutrients are used? What measures are taken to ensure purity? Cannabis cannot be labelled USDA organic due to the current federal scheduling. However, there are programs, such as the Clean Green Certified™ program that follow all the base USDA guidelines.

What are the lab results?

At the least, the cannabis should be labeled with THC, CBD and CBN or CBG values. Progressive dispensaries are also including residual results which will reveal any residual pesticides or chemicals and terpene profiles on their labelling. Most labs doing cannabis testing offer all three of these tests and the data is generally valid for 90 days from the date of testing. Are strain names, variety and lab results clearly represented on the shelf and the final packaging you receive?  Never use a product that is not properly labeled. Knowing what you are inhaling will help you determine which strains, types and cannabinoid ratios are best for your unique circumstances.

How is the cannabis stored before you receive it? 

Airtight glass jars kept in cool dark quarters is ideal. Improperly stored cannabis can and will change in its composition For example, if the cannabis is exposed to heat or too much light, the THC can convert to CBN more quickly than usual. While CBN is a fantastic sedative, that is not always the type of effect you might be looking for.  Are strain names, variety and lab results clearly represented on the shelf and on the final packaging you receive?  Never use a product that is not properly labeled.

Not all cannabis products are what they appear. When inhalation is your therapy of choice, knowing what you are getting is vital to your health. The relationship with your dispensary should be based open and based on trust in their practices to ensure you receive the best quality cannabis for maximizing your medicinal results.