Article by Nigel Irwin, Vice Canada
Dispensaries have come a long way since the Fight Club–like existence of Toronto’s oldest dispensary CALM (Cannabis as Living Medicine)—a place discovered only by accident and never spoken about. Within the last year or so, we’ve seen dozens upon dozens of dispensaries pop up all across Toronto thanks to Justin Trudeau’s plan to legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana in Canada. Many of these new businesses seem to be operating under the idea that by the time charges against them are put through the court system, the laws will have changed. Toronto police have raided dozens of dispensaries, but there seems to be little rhyme or reason to their actions, and most dispensaries keep on selling.
Today, dispensaries are operating in a legal gray zone, and business is booming. According to the Toronto’s Vital Signs Report of 2016, released by the Toronto Foundation, the percentage of Torontonians reporting dispensaries in their neighborhood doubled between March and May. It seems Toronto has overcome Vancouver as Canada’s “cannabis capital.”
The experience at these stores varies wildly from location to location, but most stores make it fairly easy to get a gram of weed these days. If you have legal ID, you can re-up with little issue. Given such rapid change, many weed smokers aren’t quite accustomed to buying their dope at a shiny store instead of someone’s basement. The interaction is most certainly different, and many customers have yet to get it right. We reached out to budtenders from around the city to ask about their worst customers.
VICE: What are some irritating things your customers do?
Samson*: Sometimes you get people in here who want to smell every jar. The jar-smellers are funny, until they are not so funny. There are a lot of people who come here and treat it like a candy store. Look at every strand just for fun. There’s a time and a place for that. When it’s busy? Maybe not.
Brian*: There are ways to research, like with Leafly and Weedmaps. If you’re so passionate that I have to have a 45 minute conversation with you, then be that passionate when you’re sitting behind your computer.
Sasha*: This whole setup has turned people into weed snobs. They come in, and they think they know a lot about weed because they smoked in a time when weed was not talked about. “Platinum? This isn’t the same platinum as last week.” Now that there are dispensaries and lots of variety, people are coming in like they are connoisseurs, and there’s nothing I can say. That’s annoying, especially when they are 23. You know, I’ve been smoking for 23 years.
Sean*: It’s also pretty annoying when customers accuse you of ripping them off, like we are purposely keeping the 0.1 gram you think we scammed from you. They give us shit when there are only popcorn nugs left. They always want the big buds even though it’s gonna be the same damn thing after it’s ground up.