Rec is legal, why haven’t I gone into a dispensary yet?

By Kathleen McLean

I have been smoking cannabis since I was 18 years old, I’m now 39. I had never applied for my medical card because I was nervous as to how it would affect my life insurance policy. I wasn’t ready to claim I had a disease or illness which required the medical use of cannabis. If I claimed I had something, and it went on my health record, it could never be erased.

Last year when California voters voted to legalize cannabis, I was ecstatic. I envisioned myself lining up on New Year’s Day with other people excited to buy weed legally in one of the dispensaries. New Year’s Day came and went, and I still have not made this trip. I’ve decided to take a moment and explore why I haven’t been in for purchase just yet. I believe it’s a mixture of anxiety and fear. I spend most of my days working, writing, and taking care of three girls. I don’t want to go on this adventure alone. I have gone to two dispensaries to deliver stacks of our paper, Candid Chronicle. The first dispensary was near La Mesa, it was an illegal shop, and it was sketchy as hell. I didn’t even want to go past the security guard never mind entering fully to buy a product. This dispensary has since been shut down. The second one was Apothekare. I had gone in to talk to a manager about advertising. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in. The store was beautiful. It was white, with pops of green, it was clean and had a modern feel. As I walked into the main waiting area, the atmosphere put me at ease. However, as I walked to the front desk, I approached two women that looked at me and said nothing. Not “Hello, how can I help you,” not a smile, nothing. They stared at me waiting for me to present my case. I smiled and said, “Good morning, I’m here to see Ms. Fancy Pants.” One of the ladies answered and said, “Ok great; I’ll have her come out to meet you, please sit down if you’d like.”

I’m not saying I had horrible customer service because that would be far from the truth, but, I didn’t feel welcome at all. I felt intimidated and started to wonder… if this is how I feel now, how stupid will I feel when I walk behind those doors to research their product? After speaking with the manager, I left and didn’t have an urge to go to another dispensary and definitely not without the support of a friend.

If you work in a dispensary and are reading this, please always be approachable. If you are the person in charge of signing people in, even though it can be challenging, greet the customer before the customer greets you. Ask them if they’ve ever been to a dispensary before and be open for questions. A lot of times, a customer service rep, will ask “Do you have any questions?” and it’s all in the way you ask this to a potential customer that will determine if they ever want to go back a second time. If you ask, “Do you have any questions?” and aren’t even pretending to be genuine people will know and will be turned off.

I want to be as comfortable going into a legal dispensary as I would be going into a Target. There were a good amount of people being interviewed on the news with the consensus being that now weed is legal they would be open to buying it. This is all new to the majority of people; please be patient with our dumb questions and general ignorance of the process.