Where to Shop: State-by-State Guide

When you are first considering using cannabis, it can be a bit overwhelming. Deciding if it’s for you is one part of the process, and purchasing products is another. Because cannabis regulations vary widely from state to state, and some people struggle to know how to get started, we have previously emphasized the importance of purchasing products from a licensed dispensary. Depending on your local state regulations, this process may be a little cumbersome, particularly if you live in a state that only allows the medical use of cannabis.

For those of you living in states that allow the recreational use of cannabis, it is more straightforward, but it can still be daunting to find licensed dispensaries. People often turn to sites like Weedmaps, which may mix in licensed dispensaries with unlicensed dispensaries in many instances.

For states where recreational cannabis is legal, here are some tips on getting started.


Finding a licensed dispensary in Alaska takes some effort. As opposed to having a search tool by country or city, or a running list, Alaska’s department of commerce has a web-based license search. This means starting with a basic web search for the closest dispensaries (for example, through Weedmaps), then verify that they’re licensed through the government website. You can search by the business name, address, or business license.


The Bureau of Cannabis Control makes finding a licensed dispensary fairly simple for Californians. In their web-based license search, you can find a list of local licensed dispensaries based on your desired filters. For license type, select “Retailer,” and select “Active” for license status. Then you can filter by city or county to find those closest to you. Even easier, and much more discreet, are cannabis delivery services, like Eaze, which delivers cannabis products to your door.


As opposed to a search tool, Colorado offers a spreadsheet of all licensed dispensaries, which you can sort by city. Simply click “Stores” and you’ll be given a spreadsheet to view that has a list of all licensed dispensaries in the state. You can sort the sheet by city or zip code to find those closest to you.


Those of you who live in D.C. have the toughest circumstances for buying low-dose products. While recreational cannabis use is technically legal, purchasing cannabis without a medical card still is not. You don’t have the option of just wandering over to a licensed recreational dispensary to peruse the products. Currently, you have the legal right to grow and possess small amounts of cannabis, and that’s it.

Some try to get around the current restrictions through a “gifting” economy, where you might be ‘gifted’ some cannabis for buying, say, a t-shirt. This is walking a thin line, and is done at your own risk. If you live in D.C. and are seeking to use cannabis for a genuine issue like anxiety or insomnia, consult a medical professional about obtaining a medical card.


Illinois just recently became the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis use. Residents can expect to have access to licensed recreational dispensaries starting at the beginning of 2020. Officials are still finalizing legislation so it’s too soon to tell how Illinoisans can find their closest shop. Come January, we recommend you search for the list of approved, licensed dispensaries through a verified Illinois government website to be sure the information is accurate.


While Maine legalized recreational cannabis use back in 2016, there have been a lot of hurdles for opening recreational dispensaries. In just the past few months, Maine finally established guidelines for dispensaries, and legal recreational cannabis sales are expected to begin in Spring of 2020. Just like Illinois, we recommend residents check out verified Maine government websites to find an accurate list of licensed dispensaries next year when sales begin.


Recreational cannabis use in Massachusetts is fairly new, but luckily it’s moving quicker than a lot of other states. In less than a year, Massachusetts has already opened up a handful of licensed dispensaries. You can find the running list on the Cannabis Control Commission website. There’s not a simple way to filter and sort by city, but you can browse the list for any establishment with a Retailer license to find a dispensary near you.


This is another state that is still in a bit of limbo. Medical dispensaries are currently opening up, and it won’t be until the end of this year that businesses can apply for recreational retail licenses. Residents have a long time to wait until they’ll be able to purchase recreational cannabis. If you are having issues with anxiety or sleep, consult a physician about medical cannabis use. Otherwise, keep your eye on the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency website in 2020 for news of the opening of licensed dispensaries.


Finding a licensed dispensary is fairly simple in Nevada. You can find the current list of licensed retailers here, which are sorted into two categories: Northern Nevada and Southern Nevada. The vast majority of dispensaries in Nevada provide both medicinal and recreational cannabis sales.


Oregon has kept things simple, as well. Their list of licensed dispensaries is available online, listed alphabetically by county. Many of these retailers offer medical grade cannabis products, and a large number also offer delivery for your convenience, all noted on the list of retailers.


Similar to D.C., Vermont legalized recreational cannabis possession and use, but not retail sales of cannabis. Officials are in the early stages of legislation to allow recreational cannabis sales, but even if all goes smoothly, residents shouldn’t expect to see these sales until 2021. If you are seeking to use cannabis for anxiety, sleep, or another legitimate health reason, consult a healthcare professional about obtaining a medical marijuana card.


A list of all applicants for cannabis business in Washington can be found here. The spreadsheet might seem a little confusing. Be sure to click on the “Retailer” tab. This is a list of all applicants, some of whom are still pending, and some of whom are no longer active. Make sure to find a retailer near you with a currently active license.


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