What is a Dispensary? A Beginner’s Guide to Buying Weed Legally

A legal pot shop, or cannabis dispensary, may be opening up near you. But what is a dispensary, exactly? From what to bring to what to expect, we’ve got you covered on everything you need to know before going to your first cannabis dispensary.

The History of Cannabis Dispensaries

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An unidentified Cannabis Buyers’ Club customer (R) lights up a marijuana cigarette for Dennis Peron (behind the bar), the establishment’s director. Buyers suffering from AIDS, cancer or conditions with symptoms that marijuana is known to alleviate can purchase the outlawed drug with a doctor’s note. (Photo by John Mabanglo/AFP/Getty Images)

The first public cannabis dispensary in the U.S. was the San Francisco Buyers Club, founded by legendary activist, Dennis Peron. With the help of another activist, Mary Jane Rathbun, more commonly known as “Brownie Mary,” the SF Buyers Club opened its doors in 1992 as a medical cannabis dispensary. At the time, San Francisco was being hit hard by the HIV/AIDS epidemic and many were fighting for medical marijuana to be legalized in order to help those struggling with the disease. Peron and Rathbun both fought for the passing of Prop P. in 1991, which recommended California embrace medical cannabis. With the help of Peron’s husband, John Entwistle, the three also helped draft the language of Prop 215, the act that made medical cannabis legal in California in 1996.

Skip ahead almost two decades to January 1st, 2014, when the first “recreational” or “adult use” dispensary opened in Denver, Colorado, 3D Cannabis. 3D Cannabis was also founded by a longtime cannabis activist, Toni Savage Fox. Fox made the first legal, adult use sale of

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