To begin, everyone will walk through the same front door, at least at this dispensary. Medical marijuana buyers will still have to present a state-issued card confirming they are registered patients. Both types of customers will need a valid ID. Recreational buyers have to be at least 21 years of age, no exceptions.
Mayerson leads us into a room framed on two sides with sales counters. He already uses the poles connected by bands of fabric that state regulations say will suffice to separate recreational and medical marijuana customers. Regulators say the division will help assure that wait times don’t increase for patients, and it gives them more time to discuss treatment options.
Mayerson mentions another reason: “There will be some slight differences in the product availability on each side.”
The products will be different because there are limits on how much THC, a psychoactive ingredient, will be allowed in edible recreational products. There’s no THC limit for medical edibles. Here’s the rule for recreational: Products like a chocolate bar must have portions that contain no more than 5 milligrams of THC each — and are stamped as such.
That kind of portion control works for candy, says Mayerson, but not for some edibles, like pizza.
“You wouldn’t be able to sell that recreationally unless each slice had 5 milligrams on it,”
Mayerson says. “So, there’s certain products that are workable for medical that’ll be difficult in the recreational side.”
But the number of marijuana-infused items may expand overall because dispensaries will no longer be limited to the products they produce themselves. The rules for recreational sales include new wholesale markets.
The marijuana sold to both medical and recreational customers will have been tested for mold, heavy metals and unapproved pesticides, and will be in child-proof packaging.
State regulations require two added warnings on recreational product labels, which dispensary owners say they may put on all products so they can be sold in both markets.
But there is another big difference between recreational and medical sales: taxes.
Recreational marijuana buyers will pay a total of 17 percent in state sales taxes and up to 3 percent in local taxes.
So an eighth of an ounce of, say, Blue Dream might cost a medical customer $70 but the woman a few feet away in a recreational line would pay $84.
And the patient will have the option of using a debit card or paying cash, while recreational users will likely have to use bills.
Finding banks that want to work with recreational dispensaries has been difficult so far because they don’t have the federal protections that are in place for medical marijuana transactions. Dispensaries that plan to open for recreational use say they’re having trouble securing insurance for the same reason.