Each regional market within the cannabis industry faces its own unique challenges. For Nevada dispensaries, one of the biggest is the unforgiving nature of the desert. “The Nevada climate causes dryness issues that other markets don’t deal with,” said Courtney Barker, purchasing manager for The+Source, a dispensary with two locations in Las Vegas.
Excessively dry flower can shortchange both consumers and dispensaries. For one thing, the drier the bud, the faster it burns, which may lead customers to believe they are not getting their money’s worth. It’s difficult not to feel cheated when your stash disappears more quickly than you expected. Extra-dry flower also can be “harsh when smoked, if not properly preserved, and dryness may change the flavor profile,” Barker explained.
Dispensaries feel the heat on their end, too. “Dry flower weighs less, and if we were to receive it and sell it [drier than it should be], that would hurt our bottom line,” Barker said. In addition, “customers would notice immediately and not come back.”
While much of cannabis cultivation requires manipulating the environment, no one can control the climate. If the desert air lacks moisture, cannabis flower is destined to dry out. Or is it? Barker said The+Source has found several ways to ameliorate the effects of arid conditions.
First, “we purchase in bulk, so we can keep the flower perfectly hydrated before packaging,” she said. Employees handle the product no more than necessary, and the flower is exposed to air as little as possible. Limiting exposure to the elements also helps prevent light from degrading the merchandise. Packaging on-site allows additional control by removing the possibility third parties will act carelessly.
Possibly the most helpful procedure to which the dispensary adheres is ordering frequently. “When you buy flower from our store, it has likely been packaged within the past week,” Barker said. “We’ve found this is the best way to ensure freshness.”
Once upon a time, shops may have been able to get away with selling subpar smokable cannabis, but as legal markets continue to grow at a rapid pace, stiff competition calls for taking quality control seriously.
“We are one of only five dispensaries in Las Vegas that purchase in bulk and package in-store,” Barker said. “While our product doesn’t come in the jar customers are used to, they are getting the highest-quality flower possible.”
The non-traditional packaging doesn’t seem to bother anyone. According to Barker, customers have not voiced any complaints about The+Source’s merchandise. Sadly, she noted, she cannot say the same about her interactions with vendors. “Sometimes I get samples of flower and it’s so dry I can’t even smoke it until it’s had a Boveda pack in there for a few days,” she said. “I don’t have that issue when I bring flower home from our stores.”
While Barker constantly explores new ways to ensure freshness, she feels confident current precautions are providing consumers with the quality they demand and deserve. “I think we have a great handle on how we’re processing things within the stores,” she said. “We are able to deliver the freshest flower in Vegas.”