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Buying Cannabis Flower: Legal Dispensary Versus Illicit Market

With dry flower cannabis being added to the Minneapolis Medical Cannabis program, it adds some welcome new options for program participants. Additionally, many states have seen enrollment in medical cannabis programs increase after adding flower to the allowable forms—and many have seen people who previously bought cannabis flower on the illicit, or illegal, market choosing to enroll in, and purchase through, medical programs instead.

It’s not surprising when you consider the advantages participating in your state’s medical cannabis program has over purchasing on the illicit market. Medical programs provide cannabis that is safer, experts who can answer your questions and give guidance about your specific situation, and consistent products so you know what you’re getting.

Regulated Market Means Safe Products

State medical cannabis programs, like the one in Minnesota, are highly regulated. Facilities that grow and manufacture cannabis products must meet regulations to ensure the facilities are clean and sterile. Product packaging is uniform and designed to keep products fresh. The finished products are tested for contaminants like mold and heavy metals and must meet acceptance criteria before being made available for purchase. A recent medical article by Caroline MacCallum and others reported that, “Regulated products are held to a higher standard including independent testing, contamination mitigation, and concentration limits.”

By comparison, cannabis sold on the illicit market is by its very nature not regulated or tested. In an effort to keep these illegal grow set ups hidden, illicit market distributors often grow their plants in places like basements, which are often not sterile and in some cases are even moldy.

With no final product testing, there is no way to know if these products have been contaminated with mold, heavy metals or other adulterants. And cannabis sold on the illicit market is often packaged in whatever is convenient, frequently plastic sandwich bags or similar items which do not help keep flower fresh.

Grow Cannabis Flower

Pharmacists Provide Guidance and Education

Have you wondered if it’s safe to take your cannabis medicine after drinking alcohol? Are you taking other prescription medications, and wondering if it will interact with your cannabis medicine? Or simply not sure which delivery method and dose is best for you?

As part of Minnesota’s Medical Cannabis program, all of our Green Goods dispensaries have pharmacists and patient care coordinators with extensive knowledge and training to answer questions like these. They can also answer all your questions about cannabinoids and terpenes, including which cannabinoids and terpenes are most likely to alleviate specific symptoms or help specific medical conditions, and which strains have which cannabinoids and terpenes.

Each person’s situation is unique, and having detailed information and guidance can help you determine what is best for your unique situation. But this guidance is only available at dispensaries operating within the legal medical cannabis program.

Cannabis Testing

Product Testing Means Consistent Products and Experiences

Knowing which cannabis strain is most likely to help your medical condition or alleviate your symptoms is only half the battle f you still have to make sure you actually get that strain. Cannabis sold in the medical program undergoes state-regulated testing, not just to test for contamination, but also to determine the levels of cannabinoids like THC and CBD, as well as terpene profiles. All of this information is verified and labelled, so you know what product you’re getting and can have a consistent experience each time.

Cannabis sold on the illicit market doesn’t undergo testing. People who purchase from the illicit market may know that they’re getting flower, but without testing, they don’t know the dominant terpenes or the levels of different cannabinoids. People who purchase from the illicit market could end up with strains without minor cannabinoids, like CBG, that they want, or with significantly higher or lower levels of THC than anticipated. This uncertainty can make it difficult to know the appropriate dose or achieve a consistent experience.

Dried flower sold from registered dispensaries as part of a medical cannabis program, like the program in Minnesota, is thoroughly monitored and tested, packaged to ensure freshness and safety, and then dispensed by licensed pharmacists following established protocols. Simply put, you know what is—and what isn’t—in the cannabis products you’re buying, and you have industry experts available to answer any questions you may have.

If you want to become a patient in Minnesota, you can learn more about qualifying conditions and the certification process. Already a patient in Minnesota? You can now schedule a virtual consultation with one of our pharmacists to discuss your unique situation and whether flower might be a good option for you.