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  • J.L Campbell

The Difference Between a Dispensary and a Head Shop

If you are one of the thousands of Louisianians who recently got their medical marijuana card, you may be confused about some of the terminology and jargon relating to the cannabis industry. One of the things that some medical marijuana patients may find themselves uncertain about is the difference between a medical marijuana dispensary and a “head shop.”

Both dispensaries and “head shops” are establishments that are friendly to cannabis users, and many medical marijuana patients may find themselves customers at both of these types of establishments. But make no mistake about it - a dispensary and a “head shop” are not the same thing. Essentially, a “head shop” is a place that sells accessories that are useful for smoking cannabis, but if you want to get your hands on any actual marijuana, you’re going to need to visit a dispensary.

A Head Shop Is Where You Get Tools for Smoking Marijuana

Head shops have been around much longer than dispensaries. The first head shop is a place called Captain Ed’s. It was established in Los Angeles in 1967 and is still open today. Because head shops came into existence when marijuana was still illegal, they were epicenters of counterculture and one of the few places cannabis users could connect with each other and purchase products for smoking marijuana.

These days, you’ll see bongs, pipes, and one-hitters on visible display at head shops, but that wasn’t always the case. Early head shops had to sell their marijuana accessories in a lowkey fashion, because these items were considered highly illegal pieces of paraphernalia.

When you went into a head shop in those days, if an employee were convinced you weren’t a police officer or an informant, they might lead you through a beaded curtain into a secret back room where the cannabis accessories were hidden from plain sight.

These days, many head shops are doing business online, selling counterculture merchandise, pipes, bongs, grinders, and more. It is important to note that you can’t get medical marijuana at one of these establishments, but you’ll find plenty of items to help you enjoy your medicine.

Marijuana Is STILL a Bad Word at Many Head Shops

Because cannabis was against the law when many head shops first opened, pipes, bongs, and other marijuana accessories had to be sold under the guise of being used for tobacco. In many head shops, right next to a selection of bongs, it is typical to see a sign that reads, “FOR TOBACCO USE ONLY.”

This is because a business could get into legal hot water for selling items intended to help others break the law. As a matter of fact, many head shops still shy away from the word “marijuana,” even if medical cannabis is legal in the state in which they are operating. If you mention using their products to consume cannabis, you may be refused service, regardless of your status as a cannabis patient.

This isn’t because they don’t realize you are going to be using their items for marijuana. It’s because the law still isn’t always clear regarding the selling of cannabis-related paraphernalia, and these businesses can’t afford to be shut down. Many head shops are still battling the stigma surrounding marijuana use that persists throughout America. Hopefully, things will change so that they won’t have to operate like modern day speakeasies. Until then, be cool.

You Can Only Purchase Medical Marijuana at a Licensed Dispensary

When it comes to getting your actual medicine, you won’t find it at a head shop. The ONLY retail outlet where you can purchase cannabis is an officially licensed Louisiana dispensary.

Because Louisiana has such stringent quality regulations on medical marijuana, state cannabis patients can rest assured knowing their medicine is safe. If there is any question as to the quality of a product, the Louisiana Department of Health will pull the marijuana items in question from shelves while an investigation is conducted.

Your Dispensary Is Often a One-Stop Shop

The fact is that most modern cannabis patients will never need to set foot into a head shop. Most dispensaries sell basic pipes and some have a wider range of accessories. If you’re looking for a larger selection, you can purchase most cannabis accessories - such as pipes, bongs, vaporizers, grinders, etc. online.

When it comes to getting your medicine, having a regulated facility with knowledgeable employees ready to help you get the best-possible experience from your medical marijuana makes shopping at a dispensary a no-brainer. Your local budtender can help you pick the best buds, and discuss which strains and other medical marijuana products might be right for you. That kind of help is very important to new medical marijuana patients.

Ready for Relief?

If you are ready to experience the natural relief that cannabis provides, you’ll need your Louisiana medical marijuana card. If you don’t have your card yet, we can help you with that.

Reserve an evaluation online today, and we’ll make an appointment for you with one of our knowledgeable, compassionate doctors to see if you qualify for your medical card. Not only will you discuss your condition and options during a virtual appointment in the safety of your own home, but if you reserve an appointment online today, you’ll also save $25 off the cost of the appointment!

We’ll even refund the total appointment cost if you and your doctor conclude that medical marijuana isn’t right for you. You have nothing to lose, and a world of potential health benefits to gain!


Doctors Who Care.

Relief You Can Trust.

At Louisiana Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.

Call us at (833) 253-2943, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!


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