February 2024

Should Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Sell Recreational Pot?

Should Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Sell Recreational Pot?

The state of Connecticut is about to embark on a journey into what is uncharted territory for them. Beginning in January 2023, Connecticut will allow some medical cannabis dispensaries to start selling recreational marijuana. Time will ultimately tell whether doing so is a good idea. In the meantime, it is worth exploring some of the implications of the plan.

Like so many other states, medical cannabis dispensaries in Connecticut need to be licensed. Patients wishing to buy medical cannabis products need to be registered with the state and be diagnosed with a qualifying condition. But once dispensaries start selling recreational products alongside their medical offerings, it is possible that things could change to some degree.

Expecting A Lot More Business

The Day, a local newspaper in New London County, recently spoke to the owners of two dispensaries regarding their plans to start selling recreational pot. Both said they were expecting a lot more business as soon as recreational sales began. At least one of them is planning up to three to four times their normal sales.

That is obviously good for dispensary owners. Selling four times as much cannabis means higher revenues and greater profits. But it also means adding staff members, stocking more inventory, and even increasing a store’s footprint. The big question is how dispensaries will differentiate between the medical and recreational businesses. One of the dispensaries profiled by The Day has it all planned out.

A Separate Line for Patients

Medical cannabis patients visiting this particular dispensary will have a separate line and window to go to. They will be given priority over recreational use customers, at least for now. They will also have access to a more extensive menu.

The menu issue is an interesting one. Certain types of medical cannabis products will not be available to recreational users. We assume that means they are more potent or designed specifically to treat a qualifying condition. But given why most medical cannabis patients use the drug, it might not matter.

At Utah dispensary Beehive Farmacy, chronic pain is the number one complaint medical cannabis patients cite when applying for their cannabis cards. Utah is mentioned here because it is a medical-only state. Yet in Connecticut, chronic pain is a big issue for patients as well.

Any Marijuana Will Do

The risk in Connecticut is that cannabis patients will be happy to settle with any marijuana they can get their hands on. That being the case, there is a possibility that some patients will not bother renewing their cards upon expiration. They will simply purchase recreational marijuana. It works just as well and costs less.

Of course, all of this is speculation. We will not know if it actually happens until the data starts coming in during 2023. Yet the possibility of patients forgoing medical cannabis for cheaper recreational marijuana is something to consider in every state with legal recreational pot.

Motivations Do Matter

It has been suggested that approving medical cannabis is just a way to get a foot in the door. It is a way to get the ball rolling toward legal recreational marijuana – and eventually psychedelics, in some states. What if that’s true? No one has bothered to study the question yet but let us assume it is true.

Motivations do matter. Medical cannabis proponents simply looking to eventually seize the prize of state-legal recreational marijuana may actually prefer that patients buy recreational pot instead of medical products. It helps the cause. On the other hand, what if advocates really want a separation between medical and recreational use? Then perhaps medical dispensaries should not be selling recreational marijuana.

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