CBD, Cannabidial, Cannabis - whatever you prefer to call it, it’s still relatively new in our area.There are new shops and websites - Oh, especially websites popping up all over the place. That being said, I am probably one of the few people that actually make an effort to visit my “competitors”.
I grew up in a Southern agricultural community where farmers met with other farmers all of the time. Maybe the meeting was at the fuel pump, hardware store or farm supply. Or, maybe you needed to borrow something from my dad, or he needed to borrow something from you. Either way, we all communicated with each other on a regular basis and it seemed to help us ALL. That is why I still trying to visit other dispensaries when I can - Relationships matter!
Usually when I go into a new shop, I try to let them know immediately who I am and what I do. That way if they happen to have an issue with me being there I can gracefully exit. It has yet to happen, but just in case. We are very fortunate to be in a very welcoming and inviting industry - at least in our area.
Most shops in our area only offer a few strains of flower and there is nothing wrong with that. You sell what you have. Where I see mistakes is when the person behind the counter throws around words like “Top Shelf” or “Premium” flower, often to a customer that doesn’t know any better. Another thing is, I don’t think the person behind the counter is being malicious or trying to mislead the customer either. Usually someone is simply repeating something they heard somewhere else and thought it sounded cool.
If you’re new to the world of cannabis, which realistically, most Americans are, I’d offer the following advice - “DO NOT BLINDLY trust what someone is telling you.” The shop may have beautiful signage and labels - The works - BUT it is up to you to do your research too!
People throw around terms like Low / Mid / High-Grade / Premium / Top Shelf as sales tools. It’s like they are selling you a used car or something. Why in the world would you expect to walk into a shop and the person behind the counter tell you “THIS is our Low-Grade Flower.” Face it - it isn’t likely to happen.
You are more than likely going to hear things like “Premium”, “Top Shelf”, “Private Reserve”, “Special Stock.” What they are really saying is “High Price” and “Cha-Ching.” Be VERY aware of gimmicks. Once again, do your research. There are plenty of FREE online guides to help you. Leafly.com is a great place to start. The Strains Guide there can help you navigate towards high-quality products based on various physical and chemical characteristics.
As you get more seasoned you will become more aware of the actual sights and smells of different flowers. You will be able to identify terpenes in specific strains and know those strains can help YOU make the decision you need. The “smell” of a flower ALWAYS comes first!
Visually study the flower too. You want the colors to be bright. Look for those greens and purples on indoor grows. Even outdoor grown flower will have greens, purples and some golden tanning. There is a huge difference in golden and yellow or brown and mold is of course a No-No!
Lastly, ask to see the COA’s (Certificates of Analysis). Confirm it has been tested for heavy metals, microbials, mycotoxins, pesticides - and passed! Look at their CBD percentages. Check out the Terpene Profile to ensure you are going to get the desired effects.
The issue is, sometimes we can ask a question that is hard to answer. It’s hard to answer because, with 100 owners, you will more than likely get 100 different opinions of what exactly “Top Shelf” is. We are still in the absence of industry-wide standards for classification. I can tell you this - There is a marked difference between 11% CBD and 24% CBD. There is also a marked difference between the first year farmer and a farmer that has been seasoned over the decades.
When it comes down to it, you have to rely on YOUR knowledge of the Strain. If in doubt, ask questions. If you are uncomfortable with the answers - Walk away. Every single dispensary owner that I communicate with on a regular basis is always more than excited to talk to a potential customer at length about their products. They enjoy talking about the history of the strain, the history or story of their farm, how they process and how they get the end product to you. The other guys don’t seem to last very long.