The journey to wellness with medical marijuana includes a lot of information and product testing; here are some tips on how to find your best medicine without breaking the bank.
By Sabby Jane
Pennsylvania medical marijuana dispensaries have a unique resource for patients that many other states don’t have, medical professionals on site so take advantage! Call the dispensary ahead of time to find out their schedule and how long your consultation will last. Then book an appointment, typically 30 minutes, and start preparing questions and symptoms to discuss.
By having your needs clearly planned out you can get better advice as to what products to look for so you’re not spending money blindly. The medical professionals are trained to understand the qualifying conditions of Pennsylvania medical marijuana patients and they know their inventory. If you saw something online or heard about a product, ask! It may be awesome, but it may not be right for your symptoms and goals.
It’s often beneficial to schedule a follow-up to discuss success, dosing adjustments, and any negative effects after about a week to ten days. During this time journal your usage to share with the dispensary medical professional.
And don’t forget to consult the dispensary staff too! Many come from other states with marijuana experience. They may be medical marijuana card holders themselves. And they hear all the feedback from other patients like you. All members of the dispensary team are there to contribute to the success of your medical marijuana usage, tap into their knowledge.
Buy in Bulk
Traditionally when buying flower, known as Dry Leaf in the PA medical marijuana program, eighths are a greater value than grams. If a single gram costs $18 and an eighth of the same strain, by the same vendor costs $60, you’re saving about $0.85 per gram when purchasing the eighth. Initially this may not be an option, you’ll be trying different strains to figure out what fits your needs best. But once you do find a few that are helping, it may be worth buying more at one time.
Store Marijuana Properly
If you’re taking the advice to buy flower in bulk, you need to store it properly so it will last. For dry leaf storage avoid moisture and keep it out of direct light in an air tight container. You may want to purchase humidi-packs that help control humidity in the dry leaf containers, a patient consultant at your dispensary can provide more information.
For cartridges and vape pens storage, avoid direct light and keep them upright (mouthpiece up) in their original container with packaging. This is particularly important if you run into a malfunction. Dispensaries and vendors can’t take back products without all properly labeled packaging. (It is always a good idea to ask about return policies when purchasing these types of devices). Pens and cartridges should be kept at room temperature; avoid heat and cold as this will cause damage and create malfunctions.
Concentrates should be kept cold, in the fridge or freezer, in an air tight container. As with cartridges, avoid heat and light. And of course, keep the original packaging.
Always keep medical marijuana products out of the reach of children and pets.
Concentrates vs Dry Leaf
Concentrates may provide greater relief in smaller doses than dry leaf. But dry leaf may have more comfortable effects. Vape cartridges, oils, and products like budder or sugar may be more expensive or intimidating than flower, but their higher content of cannabinoids and terpenes often mean smaller doses provide equal or greater relief than using dry leaf.
If you are new to concentrates and oils, disposable pens may be a good place to start finding the right strains or strain-dominance for symptom improvement. Or if you already know the strains that help you, a combination of cartridges that are compatible with your battery typically last as longer or a little longer than flower and for a similar price depending on use rates.
A $60 eighth of dry leaf may last a about a week at 0.50 grams per day for a light user, whereas a $60 500mg cartridges could last closer to 10 days. For a $70 gram of concentrate consumed at a similar rate, you might expect it to last a week to 10 days as well.
If your doctor has approved you for vaporization/nebulization that means you can use medical marijuana in all these forms, therefore you have options when choosing the best way to medicate. WARNING: Smoking is not an approved form of delivery. (For more information on how vaping dry leaf may be more potent than smoking, (check out this article)
Take Care of Your Devices
When selecting a device, it is best to first determine how you want to medicate – vaporizing dry leaf, using concentrates, or cartridge-compatible. Next do your research, some devices are compatible with multiple types of cartridges, some may be usable with different forms of medical marijuana. How easy it is to use or charge? There’s a lot to know! Ask your dispensary staff for recommendations or feedback and utilize online resources as well.
When you finally decide on a device, treat yourself to quality. This is how you will be administering your medicine, so you want something that is reliable and is easy for you to use. Check on the warranty options, troubleshooting resources, and return policies in case something goes wrong.
After purchasing your device, learn how to care for it. A few key tips include not overloading the heating chambers with dry leaf or concentrate. Only use your device for the recommended MMJ forms. Avoid overcharging and overheating. And if using dry leaf, use a grinder to break down the flower before loading the chamber.
Follow your favorite dispensaries and vendors of social media to find out about patient education days, deals, or inventory restocks. And sign up for text messages or email lists, these are often used to share important messages about sales or special events. There are restrictions on how Pennsylvania dispensaries and vendors can advertise, so check out their websites and online menus for information too, often they can’t share “deals” on platforms like you may see in other states.
Using a dispensary’s online menu to plan your purchases is a great way to determine your budget. Some stores may offer online reservations or call-ahead service, so you can count on what you want being there when you arrive. Also, check the website or ask about ATMs on location or credit card fees so you won’t be surprised and have what you need in your wallet.
Ask About Savings or Rewards Programs
Due to advertising restrictions, always ask in-store about savings or rewards. Many dispensaries have frequent shopper programs like you see at other stores that generate coupons and specials for members. Or there may be discounts available to veterans, seniors, or other special groups. Take advantage of the savings these programs are designed to provide!
Just Say No
If you are not feeling confident a product is right for you, say no. Take time to ask more questions or think it over. Do more research if you need. This is your medicine and purchases are under your control. Find a dispensary that provides honest, helpful information and does not make you feel pressured to buy a product. Discovering the medical marijuana that works best for you takes time and some trial-by-error, don’t get discouraged!