Learn how dispensary deals and specials can save you money

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Rustning

Cannabis is an amazing plant. Depending on the cultivar (strain), it may serve as an effective tool for pain relief, sleep support, or even pre-workout motivation! However, the cost of cannabis adds up. Today we’re sharing our top tips for saving money on cannabis, and it starts with knowing what you need, as well as where to look for discounts and deals on cannabis products.

Three large jars of cannabis at a dispensary. Knowing why you want to use cannabis can help you make the right choice.

Before You Shop: Know Why You Want to Use Cannabis

One of our top tips for saving money on cannabis is to start by identifying why you want to use cannabis, then find the strains or product types that match your goals before you head out to the dispensary. Otherwise, you could end up buying something that sounds good, but doesn’t align with your needs.

For example, if flower is your preferred type of medicine, the Red-Headed Stranger strain might pique your interest based on its name (yes, it is named after Willie Nelson’s 1975 album!). Red-Headed Stranger may become your best friend if you’re looking for a creative, energizing daytime boost. However, if your goal is improved rest, then this strain would not be a good fit.

Cannabis products are also available in different potencies, different ratios including both CBD and THC, and a wide range of product forms including flower (bud), concentrates, tinctures, pills, edibles, topicals and even suppositories that have different onset and offset times.

While you may be tempted to say, “Give me your strongest stuff!” to the budtender, in reality, a smaller dose or different form may be more effective (and less expensive!) for your needs.

Every day, our Leaf nurses help callers sort through all the options available in dispensaries, providing impartial, balanced guidance and education. Call our free hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) for help with your questions.

Dispensary budtenders can also help point you in the right direction; however, keep in mind that they are not medical professionals, and in fact are restricted from giving medical advice.

Dispensary sign. Save money by knowing where to find dispensary deals and specials.

Finding Dispensary Deals and Specials

You’ve done your research and narrowed down your product selection. Now, let’s turn to ways to save money on your cannabis.

Cannabis advertising is heavily restricted. You won’t find dispensary sales circulars tucked in your mail. However, cannabis retailers in most legal states can offer specials to consumers—you just need to know where to look for the details!

Visit a dispensary’s website and you’ll likely find recurring specials on a set day of the week, making it easy to plan your shopping around your product preferences. Are you an edibles fan? Many dispensaries offer 10%-20% discounts on edibles on Mondays or Tuesdays. Other days may feature specials on flower, concentrates, topicals or products containing CBD. By timing your shopping trips around these weekly specials, you can save considerable money.

In addition, some dispensaries offer ongoing discounts to Veterans and to customers who are 65 or older. It doesn’t hurt to ask if the dispensary offers these discounts!

Beyond ongoing promotions, dispensaries often hold sales in conjunction with product launches or holidays. Again, the dispensary’s website is the best place to look for these specials.

Why don’t dispensaries share their specials on social media? Most social media platforms have strict rules against online cannabis sales advertising, though cannabis businesses may share informational or educational content.

Finally, use in-person sources of information. When you visit a dispensary, it’s always worth asking your budtender about upcoming sales on your favorite products.

Phone on table surrounded by cannabis buds. Many dispensaries text sales to subscribers.

Dispensary Loyalty Programs, Newsletters and Texts: A Good Source If You Don’t Mind Sharing Your Information

Many dispensaries offer loyalty programs that function a lot like any other retailer’s rewards programs. Loyalty members may receive special discounts and deals, including earning points that can be redeemed on future purchases. For consumers who are comfortable sharing their personal information, these loyalty programs can be a good way to save money on cannabis.

(Note: These dispensary loyalty programs are different than designating a medical marijuana dispensary as your caregiver, which many states require as part of their medical cannabis program.)

When you sign up for a dispensary loyalty program, you’ll likely be asked if you want to receive email newsletters or text messages as well. Most dispensaries also offer newsletter sign-ups on their website, without requiring visitors to join their loyalty programs.

Other Ways to Stretch Your Cannabis Budget When Shopping at Dispensaries

You’ve marked cannabis sales days on your calendar and joined your favorite dispensary’s loyalty program. What other ways can you save money on cannabis?

Actually, that’s a good question to ask the budtenders! They might be able to recommend an alternative that is less expensive yet delivers a similar effect or flavor as a higher-tier product.

Many dispensaries also offer price breaks on larger quantities of flower, concentrates or other products. However, keep in mind that flower and concentrates are perishable. THC and terpenes break down over time, and flower may dry out, even when properly stored in an airtight container and kept away from sunlight and heat. (Hint: The freezer isn’t the best place to store your cannabis, either! Check out this link for tips on how to store flower and edibles.)

Making edibles, with cannabis shake in a small dish next to a mixing bowl with brownie batter.

Another low-cost option is to buy marijuana shake, the small bits and pieces that break off of larger buds as they are handled. Trimmers and dispensaries collect shake and either use it to make prerolls, or package it by weight, selling it at a discount when compared to bud. 

On the upside, shake can be an inexpensive ingredient source for making your own cannabis tinctures or edibles, or rolling your own joints. However, you will want to make sure that you know what you are buying. Shake may sometimes contain stems, leaves or even a few seeds.

Shake is often available in a specific strain. However, dispensaries may also mix all their shake together from various strains, resulting in the cannabis equivalent of kitchen sink cookies (containing everything but the kitchen sink)!

Cannabis seedling growing in a pot at home.

Is It Cheaper to Grow Your Own Cannabis?

Many people find growing their own cannabis to be a rewarding experience. But is it cheaper than buying cannabis at a dispensary?

Leafly took a detailed look at this question a few years ago and concluded that no, it is not cheaper to grow your own cannabis. Their analysis factored in equipment and supplies for an ideal grow set-up, with costs running into the thousands. However, a quick look at the comments on that article show that many people successfully grow their personal supply of flower with lower-cost supplies.

Before you stock up on seeds or clones and other supplies, be sure to check your state and local laws, as well as any HOA regulations that might restrict personal cannabis grows. You’ll find different laws and regulations depending on whether you’re a medical marijuana patient or an adult-use (recreational) consumer. The laws will also spell out how many plants you’re allowed to grow and where you can grow on your property. For example, Colorado requires all plants to be kept in an enclosed, locked area that cannot be openly viewed. That means you cannot grow your cannabis in front of your favorite sunlit picture window, since passersby would be able to see your plants.

Finding the Best Cannabis for Your Needs and Budget

If you’re feeling a bit lost, don’t worry! Our fully-licensed Leaf RNs can help you sort through your options, saving you money and time. Best of all, as a non-profit, we are able to offer our service for free. Call our hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411), or chat us from our home page during hotline hours, Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

The Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline provides free, anonymous education and directional support to the general public about the safe use of legal cannabis. We partner with select business members who meet our rigorous standards to extend our education and outreach efforts.