As news comes of the enforced closure of over 500 LA medical marijuana dispensaries, it seems timely to take a look at how patients can legally access medical marijuana through dispensaries and collectives.

What are Medical Marijuana Dispensaries?

The fact is that very few users of medical marijuana have the knowledge, the space or, in fact, the desire to cultivate their own supply of medication, neither can they find a caregiver to grow it for them.  Therefore, most medical cannabis patients obtain their supplies from what is officially known as a Medical Cannabis Dispensing Collective (MCDC), otherwise known as a dispensary.

A typical dispensary looks just like any other store but it will operate with a closed membership, allowing only patients and caregivers to obtain cannabis from the facility.  Membership can only be approved when the patient’s documentation has been verified or, where relevant, on the production of a medical cannabis registration card.   In some states and cities it is legal for the patients to self-medicate on the dispensary’s premises.  Many dispensaries also offer services such as counseling and legal workshops.

Why do Patients Need Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

For patients without the resources to cultivate their own cannabis, dispensaries offer safe and legal access to a medication that proliferates on the illegal market and which, therefore, comes with the baggage that obtaining illegal drugs entails.  The theft and violence that often goes alongside the use of illegal drugs is bad enough if one is healthy but is intolerable to those who are weakened by ill health.  And, of course, the majority of citizens are law abiding and would never contemplate obtaining their medication illegally.  Lessening the illegal trade in cannabis also has the knock on effect of making the city a safer place to live for everybody and not just the marijuana patients.

A dispensary is often far more than just a supply facility, however; in many cases they also offer a social support system that the patient cannot find elsewhere. Dispensaries also allow for a pooling of information about other support services available in the area.

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and Public Safety

It is a fact that the dispensaries reduce crime and improve public safety.  In fact, in his 2006 Staff Report, Proposed Ordinance Regulating Medical Cannabis Dispensaries, the sheriff of Kern County, Ca, noted that “existing dispensaries have not caused noticeable law enforcement of secondary effects and problems for at least one year. As a result, the focus of the proposed Ordinance is narrowed to insure Dispensary compliance with the law.”

Dispensaries and Private Collectives are Not the Same Thing

This is an important point to note.  Private patient collectives, where members of the group grow and share their cannabis do not have – and should not have – the same restrictions placed upon them as a retail set-up, which is, in effect, what a marijuana dispensary is.

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries State-by-State Listings

There is now a free iPhoneapp for USA residents which locates legal medical marijuana dispensaries in your local area.


Author Dianne Morgan

More posts by Dianne Morgan

Join the discussion 12 Comments

  • Where Can I Find Companies That Do Credit Card Transaction Processing For Internet Business?

  • The Transaction Group has partners that offer legal [url=]marijuana merchant accounts[/url] along with excellent customer service for medical marijuana dispensaries in the United States. If you have any questions about a medical marijuana merchant account or would like to begin the application process email us at,

  • bowlan says:

    we are developing a new product for you weed growers. marijuana camo, non toxic food dye that you spray directly onto your plants.
    from the air your plants will look like the field they are growing in.

    contact us for organic dye samples

  • Storm Crow says:

    I collect MMJ studies from reputable sources like PubMed, and medical journals. If you would like to learn more about the many medical uses of cannabis, run a search for “Granny Storm Crow’s MMJ Reference List”. It can be found at several cannabis forums- is one of my favorites. I have listed 100s of MMJ studies – all you have to do is click and read them. Please take the time to educate yourself about this amazing healing herb! Thank you!

  • bowlan says:

    ha,ha thats funny
    who cares who buys the sht
    its all hemp
    you dont get stoned from smoking hemp.
    yet the fools buy the sht
    what a joke that is.
    500 hemp dispenceries in ca and every one of them selling junk hemp.
    they buy seed from amsterdam and grow hemp and sell hemp at the same price real mj cost.
    what a scam
    this has t be the largest scam to eer hit the
    The Hemp Plant
    The hemp plant is harvested for its fibers, seed, seed meal and seed oil.
    Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa L. Due to the similar leaf shape, hemp is frequently confused with marijuana. Although both plants are from the species cannabis, hemp contains virtually no THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in marijuana.
    Hemp cannot be used as a drug because it produces virtually no THC
    (less than 1%), where marijuana produces between 5 – 20 % THC.

  • C.D. says:

    If a California Medical Marijuana Card is issued in say Los Angles .. And the card holder for personal reasons wishes to do business with a dispensaries in Oakland …. Or in some other county … What is the rule pertaining to this.

  • Corey says:

    If anyone needs info about setting up a merchant account for their dispensary check out website: We can have you accepting major credit cards for your MMD in 24-72 hrs. Convenience for the Patients. More profit for the dispensary.

    MMD Credit Cards

  • Ewald Graf says:

    How can I receive a permit and a Dr. to write me a prescription for maraijuana to help me with chronic pain.

  • As far as L.A. DA Steve Cooley is concerned the voters of L.A. county can just pucker up and kiss his shinny white ass. So what if 74% of the voting public agree with current laws. What a pompous ass. Can you spell “RE-CALL Petition”…

  • A new medical cannabis magazine has come on sale. Unlike the freebie mags flooding the market, HIGH TIMES Medical Marijuana features contributions from leaders of the medical cannabis movement—including Americans for Safe Access, Berkeley Patients Group, Harborside Health Center, NORML, WAMM, MAPS and Dr.

    Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School— who help explain medical cannabis laws state-by-state, including how to get a doctor’s recommendation and medical ID, how to find the best medical marijuana dispensaries near you, how to choose the right strains, hash and edibles once you arrive, how to get a truly “green job” in the legal cannabis industry, and how to get involved in the fight to protect the rights of medical marijuana patients and providers nationwide.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.