medical vs recreational marijuana

3 min read

4 Differences When Serving Medical Marijuana Patients vs. Recreational Customers

May 25, 2018

Several cannabis dispensaries have been issued licenses to serve both medical patients and recreational customers. While this is certainly an advantage, there are major differences that every budtender should know when serving each. Not only are medical patients seeking relief to specific symptoms, but there are varying compliance regulations for medical marijuana patients as opposed to recreational customers.

In this article, we’ll discuss a few operational protocols that all dispensary staff should be aware of when serving medical marijuana patients.

Dispensary Check-In

When dealing with medical marijuana patients at dispensary check-in, the receptionist will need to validate that they are at least 18 years old and upload either their medical recommendation or state medical card. A medical recommendation can be acquired by through a doctor or an online service, whereas a state medical card is only obtained through your state’s public health department.

Once the required documents are added to the patient’s profile, it’s vital that the receptionist verify the recommendation and select the appropriate patient type. This can easily be done using an advanced dispensary point of sale software. Assigning the patient type will ensure that the correct tax rate will be applied during the transaction.

Sales Taxes

One of the major distinctions between medical marijuana patients and recreational customers is the amount of cannabis sales tax that is added to each purchase. Medical marijuana patients that have obtained a state approved medical marijuana card are exempt from both state and local sales tax on all cannabis products. Patients with only a doctor’s medical recommendation will be charged the state sales tax but not the local taxes.

If there are non-cannabis products being purchased alongside cannabis products the sales tax will need to be charged to all medical patients on the non-cannabis products. Recreational customers will be charged the full percentage of sales tax. If this sounds confusing, it’s because it is, but luckily budtenders won’t be stuck trying to figure out the correct tax rate if they’re processing sales using intelligent cannabis software.

Purchase Limits

Another difference that dispensary staff will need to be aware of when serving medical marijuana patients as opposed to recreational customers it the purchase limits. In California, recreational cannabis customers are legally allowed to purchase up to one ounce (28.5g) of flower, 8 grams of concentrate and 6 immature plants during a 24 hour period. Any time these limits are exceeded, the dispensary budtenders are instantly notified by the POS system so they can adjust the quantity to maintain compliance.

Medical marijuana patients are allowed to purchase significantly more cannabis with limit topping out at eight ounces of flower. Under the recently released marijuana regulations, dispensaries are also allowed to offer gifts or product giveaways to medical patients under certain circumstances. This is largely due to the number of low-income patients and veterans that benefit from medical cannabis.

Product Labels

If your cannabis retailer is also licensed as a distributor, you’ll want to make sure that you properly label your medical marijuana products. Every cannabis product must have a primary panel and an informational panel to suffice as compliant labelling but if the product is specifically sold to a medical marijuana patient, there must be an additional label declaring “For Medical Use Only.”

This is why it’s essential to have a fast label printer connected to your dispensary point of sale so you can quickly print and apply the label while ringing up a medical patient. IndicaOnline simplifies servicing recreational customers and medical marijuana patients with convenient tools that will keep your storefront efficient as well as compliant. To learn more about our innovative marijuana POS system, schedule a demo.