Let us play devil’s (lettuce) advocate for one moment. Most legal dispensary cannabis is actually pretty freaking awesome. Illinois dispensary cannabis, in particular, has some added benefits you may not have thought of.
- It’s LEGAL for adults 21+ and in-state medical cardholders! We got the obvious one out of the way.
- It’s SAFE as a result of third-party lab testing for pesticides and other contaminants before sale to consumers.
- It’s PREDICTABLY POTENT because each strain has lab reports issued revealing the cannabinoid makeup and terpene profile, making it easier to determine the effects that one may experience.
- There’s a MASSIVE SELECTION of cannabis products found nowhere else, including flower, pre-rolls, extracts, edibles, beverages, vapes, tinctures, and topicals.
One could argue that better cannabis prices lie on the black market, which is entirely true. That will always be the case for the local plug that isn’t required to apply taxes, follow stringent industry rules and regulations, validate that the product is safe to consume, or that it’s even the best fit to achieve your wellness goals.
So if you choose to shop at a dispensary instead, we thank you. But, you’ve made it this far into this article because you want to know how to save money on your dispensary cannabis. Here are some actionable tips to consider trying to do just that:
Buy bulk flower
The concept of buying products in bulk is nothing new. It’s the core business model behind retailers like Costco and Sam’s Club, whose purpose is to sell you larger quantities of a product at a lower price. A quarter ounce (7g) or greater of cannabis flower is widely considered bulk in a dispensary setting. Like any product you buy in bulk, you have to be confident that you’ll enjoy it up front and that it gets used before expiration. Fortunately, cannabis flower has a relatively long shelf life compared to other consumer goods.
Buy shake or popcorn buds
Other products often carried in bulk increments that are even cheaper than the standard flower is shake and popcorn. Although it may vary between cultivators, shake may come from the full bud or its excess trimmings after harvest. As the name implies, popcorn buds (or smalls) are roughly the size of a popped kernel of corn when harvested from a cannabis plant. Because shake and popcorn are less desirable than the premium buds, they are sold to consumers at a fraction of the price. Contrary to popular belief, the two can often be equally potent as their full bud counterpart.
Get a medical card
It pays to have a medical card in many legal medical and recreational markets. For example, Illinois medical cannabis cardholders pay a nominal 1% pharmaceutical tax on cannabis products at licensed medical dispensaries. Taxes on recreational cannabis products in Illinois for adults 21+ range from 19.25% to 42.75%, depending on THC percentage, product type, and dispensary location.
- 10% tax on flower or extract with 35% THC or less
- 20% tax on infused products (such as edibles)
- 25% tax on flower or extract with 35% THC or more
- 6.25% to 11% state/county/city sales tax (varies statewide)
- 3% to 6.75% county/city cannabis tax (varies statewide)
That’s a tremendous cost difference. Let’s put it into perspective with a pre-taxed $60 eighth (3.5g) of flower. Our medical dispensary would cost an Illinois medical patient just $60.60 while their recreational counterpart pays $74.40 (with taxes included). Find out if you qualify to become an Illinois medical cardholder here.
Try dry-herb vaping
A dry herb vaporizer heats ground cannabis flower to a temperature that releases an inhalable vapor containing valuable cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc.) and terpenes (myrcene, linalool, etc.). While smoking from a bong or joint is great, dry herb vaporizing is a much more efficient use of flower. You also retain a significant amount of the aroma and flavor when using this consumption method too. Our dispensary stocks a vast selection of accessories, including dry herb vaporizers. Furthermore, already vaped bud (or AVB) can have a dual purpose covered in our next point.
Make DIY edibles or topicals
The exciting thing about AVB is that it still contains cannabinoids and terpenes. Please don’t throw it in the garbage, but save it in a jar for use later. You can decarb (or heat) cannabis shake or ground flower to make your own cannabutter or oil for infusion into homemade edibles or topicals too. Another lesser-known way to create your own edibles is by buying activated cannabis oil, also known as RSO, and injecting it directly into any food. Activated oil comes in needleless syringes with tic marks along the side, making it easy to eject the appropriate dosage. Unless you use this method, accurately dosing your DIY edibles is difficult.
Follow dispensary offers
Most dispensaries regularly run product specials and promotions (raffles, swag, etc.). Be sure to visit their website, online menus, subscribe to emails and texts, and follow them on social media to know about the latest offers. If they have a loyalty program like our Best Budzz Rewards, enroll in it to earn points on purchases to redeem for discounts. Lastly, take advantage of dispensary discounts for select groups. We offer a 10% discount for patients (in & out-of-state) and veterans that you can learn more about here.
Compare dispensary prices
Don’t be afraid to shop around at your local dispensaries to see who has the best price on your favorite product. Look closely at whether they show the final, out-the-door price. While some dispensaries opt to include any applicable taxes and discounts in the product price upfront, others may display it only on the cart or checkout screen when placing an online order. While it doesn’t happen often, some dispensaries may apply taxes at pick up of your online order in person instead. Ideally, a dispensary has messaging on their online menus clarifying the method used.
Consider cartridges versus disposables
Cartridges usually have the standard 510 threaded design and can be inserted into most third-party vaporizer batteries. Disposable vape pens combine the oil cartridge and vaporizer battery into an all-in-one device. When viewing product menus, consider the amount of oil found inside disposables compared to cartridges. Disposable vape pens are generally 300mg in the Illinois market, while cartridges are 500mg. While you pay just a bit extra for the convenience of disposables, there’s another caveat too. The battery in a disposable vape pen activates upon taking your first draw or puff. That means the internal battery begins to decline in power, even when not used. The worst-case scenario is that you return to your disposable vape pen later; the battery doesn’t have enough juice to vaporize, and the oil inside gets wasted.
Pack your own pre-rolls
Another cannabis product that you pay for convenience is pre-rolls, a.k.a. pre-filled joints. For example, the average one gram pre-roll in Illinois will cost a recreational purchaser $20 (after taxes). In retrospect, the average quarter ounce (or 7 grams) of shake flower would cost that same individual $75 (after taxes). Let’s say an empty cone holding at least a gram costs $1. That means the average self-filled one gram pre-roll would cost only $11.71. That’s $8.29 saved versus buying the pre-made version! Consider buying larger bulk quantities of shake and cones for even more savings.
Take tolerance breaks
The therapeutic effects of cannabis on our body begin to diminish after prolonged use and excessive dosing. Limiting consumption or abstaining from cannabis for even short durations is excellent for both your health and wallet. Taking tolerance breaks trains the endocannabinoid system to use less cannabis to achieve the same wellness benefits you experienced at unnecessary, larger dosages. For guidance on resetting your tolerance to cannabis, check out the sensitization protocol from Dr. Dustin Sulak, cannabis education and dosage advisor with Healer.com.