Why do dispensaries sell old weed?
Why do dispensaries sell old weed? Have you ever bought an eighth of flower from a licensed dispensary only to check the label when you got home an realized it was packaged four months ago? Well, you’re not the only one this has happened to. Unfortunately it’s an all to common issue that’s easily avoidable with a little due diligence on the dispensary’s part.
The worst part is, that four month old flower might even be even be older than that. Let’s take a few minutes to talk about what’s really going on and how you can avoid blazing old ass flower that crumbles into dust when you try and break it up.
Producer vs. White Labeler
The first thing you need to understand in order to avoid smoking old flower is the difference between a flower producer (grower) and a while label brand. With all the flower brands out there pretending to the producer of their wares, this can get a little confusing.
Flower makes it’s was onto the shelves of a licensed California dispensary a couple different ways. It’s either sold to the dispensary by the company that grew the flower. Or, the dispensary buys flower from a distribution company. Now, you’re probably wondering why a dispensary would choose to buy flower from a distribution company instead of buying it directly from the grower. The answer is simple. California marijuana laws which are enforced by the Bureau of Cannabis Control state that licensed dispensaries can only buy flower from a licensed distributor. Only a small percentage of licensed growers also have a distribution license. Most distribution licenses are help by distribution companies. These companies buy flower in bulk from growers, package it up at their facility, then they sell the packaged flower to dispensaries.
Here’s where it gets a little confusing and some might say, shady. When a grower harvests their flower, there’s a few different way it finally ends up at a dispensary.
A) The grower also has a distribution license and they package their flower themselves and sell it directly to a dispensary. In this case, the label on the flower usually lists the harvest date and the packaged on date and the two dates are usually close in time frame.
B) They grower does not have a distribution license and after harvest, they give or sell their bulk flower to a distributor (depending on their deal) who then packages the flower for the grower using the growers labels and then sell it to a dispensary. In this case, the label on the flower usually includes both the harvest on date and the packaged on date which again are normally close in time frame.
C) The grower does not have a distribution license and after they harvest, they sell their flower in bulk to a distribution company knowing the distribution company is going to package the flower under a different brand name (sometimes more than one) and sell it to a dispensary. This is what’s known as white labeling. In this case the label may or may not have the harvest date and the packaged on date on the label. (Usually depends on how old the flower is when the distributor buy it.) The State says the only date that must be printed on the label is the packaged on date.
The way the laws are written in California, distribution companies are allowed to buy flower in bulk and package/sell it under any strain and brand name they want. In fact, many popular flower brands, even some that have been around since before the legal market opened up, don’t grow their own flower. They have a distribution license that allows them to buy flower from whomever they want. They then package the flower with “XYX” brand name attached to it and sell it to the dispensary.
And this is where one of the issues arise. Because white label brands need flower but have no control of their own gardens, they can end up buying flower that is months old before it’s even packaged up. For example, let’s say a grower harvests flower on January 1. For whatever reason they are not able to sell the flower for a couple months. Then on March 15, a distributor that runs a flower brand buys that flower in bulk from the grower. The distributor has to then have the flower tested which takes another week. Packaging finally happens on March 22 which is what ends up being printed on the label. A dispensary then buys the flower thinking it’s fresh and sells it to one of their customers on March 30. The customer thinks he just bought an eighth of fresh flower that’s only a week old when in reality, it’s almost four months old.
Why do dispensaries sell old weed? A lot of the blame can definitely be placed on dispensary buyers. A.K.A., the person responsible for buying the products that dispensaries sell. Every shop is a little bit different but for the most part, they each have a person or a team of people that are in charge of buying the flower that they sell to their customers. Buyers have different levels of experience depending on how long they’ve been in the game.
Knowing the difference between good weed and mids is not enough. A seasoned buyer knows how to parse sales data to see exactly what is selling and knows how much of each strain to buy. A seasoned buyer has connections. They know who to call when they need more weed. A seasoned buyer recognizes a white label brand and knows when to ask “when was this flower harvested?”.
A novice buyer goes with their gut and buys what they think will sell. They tend to under buy or even worse, over buy which leads to old weed being sold. A novice buyer has little/no connections and reaches out to flower brands via email or Instagram DM’s. This may work but they’re not getting first look at the latest and greatest flower being grown. A novice buyer doesn’t understand what to look for when dealing with a white label brand and relies on the packaged on date printed on the flower label to determine freshness. A novice buyer may not know why many consumers prefer indoor weed over outdoor weed.
Most well run dispensaries have top-notch buyers that know how to stock their shelves with correct flower quantity and quality. They don’t buy flower that doesn’t sell and they never buy too much flower. Their inventory is in-demand and sells out relatively quickly which allows them to re-up with new, fresh flower. They rarely have flower sitting around getting old because of a bad buy.
All that being said, it’s up to you as a consumer to ask questions when you’re buying weed. Don’t be afraid to ask a budtender to show you the jar/package before they drop it in a bag. Read the dates on the label. If it’s a few months old, get something else. If there is only a packaged on date, ask when the flower was harvested. If they can’t tell you, buy something else. And if they give you grief for asking questions, leave and find another shop. It’s that simple.
Also, please keep in mind that delivery services have the same issues. When calling in your order ask questions. When receiving your delivery open the bag and look at the labels before you pay. Due diligence goes both ways. And if a driver gives you attitude because he has to wait while you inspect your order, tough shit.
*Note: Cannabiotix is a great brand that grows everything they sell.
Join over 10,000 Stoners!
Weekly OC cannabis news and entertainment right to your inbox.