Wanna buy weed? Not all online platforms are equal. Photo credit: Shutterstock.
With the increasing statewide legalization and availability of cannabis in the U.S., the question of where and how to order your favorite products has become increasingly relevant. This is our attempt to answer that question by reviewing some of the most well-known and user-friendly cannabis shopping websites, highlighting their respective strengths and weaknesses.
Depending on whether you’re a longtime cannabis consumer or (forgive our pun) a canna-virgin, some platforms will prove to be more personally efficient or appealing than others. Still, we believe this review provides an excellent starting point from which to develop and refine your own e-commerce preferences. Without further ado, here are our recommendations:
From dispensaries to deliveries to deals, Weedmaps combines information and design to create a comprehensive guide for the cannabis consumer. Its most notable feature is its map. Based on your current location, the map displays doctors, dispensaries, and cannabis stores near you. You can filter through these results based on license type, possibility of curbside pickup, amenities, etc.
For those who are unfamiliar with the terms and technology common to cannabis culture, Weedmaps offers their Learn tab. The section is bursting with informative articles concerning a variety of cannabis-related topics. Some detail the production of CBD, consumption laws, the treatment of anxiety with cannabis, and hundreds more.
Nested within the Learn section is the darling Dictionary. This section offers straightforward definitions of cannabis-related terms, enlightening the non-experienced user in search of greater understanding.
On the downside, this site is fairly complicated to use. It contains a great deal of data, which can be beneficial, but overwhelming. Additionally, consumers are unable to purchase on the platform. Instead, the user is redirected to the individual retailer, with Weedmaps serving as a tool to guide you towards your final purchasing destination.
For informational and locational purposes, Weedmaps is ideal and convenient. But upon locating a dispensary or store near you, proceeding to the business’s personal website appears simpler.
Simpler to use than Weedmaps, iHeartJane focuses on the consumer’s experience. Specifically, the platform focuses on informing the user not just on how the product is supposed to make one feel, but also on the activities that this type of product is compatible with.
For example, consider the Blackberry Kush cartridge, associated with “blissful,” “relaxed,” and of course “hungry” feelings. In addition to these ratings, customers can mention activities this strain encourages or enhances, such as “hang[ing] with friends,” “get[ting] some sleep,” or “get[ting] intimate.”
iHeartJane also employs a map system that helps users to view dispensaries/stores in their locations. While this system is flawed (I don’t wanna see how many products a business has, I want its name WITHOUT clicking) it also promotes social equity.
Perusing under “OWNERSHIP,” the IHeartJane user can support minority groups by purchasing from businesses that are run by people of color, LGBTQ+ people, women, or veterans. “So what”, you, the noble Emerald reader, asks, “could be wrong with it?”
Well, if you’re looking for education about cannabis vocabulary, culture, and issues, this platform will be unhelpful. The company places their focus here on the product, the consumer experience, and sales. Community and information takes a backseat, making it perfect for some users and inadequate for others.
Additionally, on the topic of cannabis know-how, this platform could feel overwhelming or unhelpful to the inexperienced cannabis consumer. For example, a shopper could find that the product descriptions use terms that they are unfamiliar with, making it unclear what they are buying. Clearly, the needs of the individual user are necessary to consider when specifying which e-commerce platform they might find helpful.
Last on our tour is Dutchie, a practical, uninvolved platform whose function has four steps. First input your location, select a dispensary/store near you, choose your desired cannabis products, and pay.
Of the sites discussed in this article, Dutchie is the easiest to use. It is also the quickest in getting you to the checkout counter.
For the experienced cannabis consumer who knows the products they want and is eager to order online — Dutchie is seemingly the best option. The bad news? Dutchie is lacking in some of the beneficial features mentioned throughout this article.
For one, to support minority-owned business owners, you would have to do your own research. Dutchie does not provide these crucial details. Additionally, there are no customer reviews of the products or descriptions of their emotional/physical effects. That prevents the user from relying upon the experiences of others or even the authority of the platform in making their purchasing decisions.
Finally, there is no “Help” or “News” section on Dutchie, revealing that this is a platform specifically designed for the experienced cannabis user concerned with buying their favorite locally available goodies. For those who are new to the world of cannabis, or those seeking cannabis-related articles and news, other platforms are more desirable.
As this list has made clear, the most user-friendly cannabis-shopping platforms have strengths and weaknesses. The ultimate question is what kind of online experience you, the consumer, desire. We encourage you to explore such platforms and to keep in mind that you don’t have to be exclusive!