15 Apr How Technology Is Lowering the Stigma of Using Cannabis
As cannabis laws evolve, dispensaries are forced to adapt and change with the growing times. Five years ago, a visit to a local medical marijuana dispensary was usually described as a unique and often unpleasant experience that many people felt bordered on being dangerous, and definitely still felt somewhat illegal.
What Dispensaries Used to Look Like
Legal concerns between state and federal law, as well as the high risk of security threats, forced many dispensaries to operate in the shadows – literally. They were hard to find with dark and dingy interiors. The potential for a security breach was immediately obvious upon arrival. Between the bars on the windows, intimidating security guards, cameras pointed out from each corner, and the sound of buzzing restricted-entry gates, the whole experience only exacerbated the feeling of engaging in illicit activity. This, of course, negatively affected the credibility of cannabis and perpetuated the stigma that it had no place in the mainstream.
What They Look Like Now …
Well, times are a changin’, and the cannabis industry has realized that, if they want to succeed, they need to mirror other legal industries who have been successful. Technology is coming to the “greenrush’s” rescue and making many things easier in this sticky industry. More acceptance, changes in legislation, and states permitting “adult/recreational use” all guarantee a very competitive environment for dispensaries in the future. Dispensary owners are moving towards wanting to make their shops more inviting, engaging, and modern. The dispensaries that are welcoming and offer state of the art technology that supports their customers shopping experience have the upper hand in cultivating a good reputation. By differentiating themselves from the competition in a culturally-conscious way, they significantly up their chances of climbing the ladder of success.
As aesthetic and design improve, the only significant difference between these dispensaries and high-end retail stores is the type of product they are selling. However, because the product “cannabis” was previously illegal- many customers do not know much about it. This coupled with the fact that there is now a plethora of different cannabis products offering customers many choices and growing the need for more education in this budding industry. Even those who are familiar with marijuana are often shocked at what is now available in a dispensary. Thanks to science, and technology there have been many new advances in how current day cannabis presents, and this can make a shopping experience feel overwhelming even to the seasoned user. Dispensaries that leverage technology to help educate their customers on the available products, are likely to increase their sales and shorten their wait times.
Currently many dispensaries rely heavily on budtenders to “educate”, and assist their customers to make purchases. Some dispensaries are now opting for a more open floor model, where products are not in the typical glass displays, which allows customers to browse (and even smell!) product, without the direct assistance of a budtender. MedMen (pictured below) is a great example of this new look. MedMen also utilizes technology to help their customers see prices and product specific info. MedMen’s goal is to help eliminate the stigma around cannabis, and introduce customers to cannabis as a legal medical and adult use product that they don’t have to be intimidated by. MedMen hopes to help customers see that a dispensary visit can look and feel very much like visiting any other professional storefront.