While dispensaries, brands and events no longer can offer free samples of cannabis products to consumers, the practice between brands, growers and retailers is still in development
It has been a boon for the California cannabis industry — leveraging free samples and giveways at dispensaries and events to introduce customers to new products and build brand loyalty.
But the days of freebies are over. Under the new rules regulating marijuana in California, businesses are not able to gift cannabis for any reason.
Prior to the new rules, sampling was fairly common. During a broadcast of the podcast “In The Weeds” last year, for example, Kiva Confections marketing manager Christie Strong said sampling was instrumental in building the company’s line of microdose products. People tried the 2.5 milligram Petra Mints, loved them, and helped make the line one of Kiva’s most successful.
Some dispensaries are are offering one-cent items in lieu of samples, but keep in mind that you’ll be paying tax on the original price of that item and not tax on one-cent.
Other States Ban Cannabis Samples Too
California is not alone in banning sampling. No other states with recreational marijuana regimes allow free samples. Of the many medical-only states in the country it is possible that some do permit the practice, for the same reason that California did — the state has not yet come up with rigorous rules surrounding cannabis marketing. Giveaway restrictions normally fall under marketing regulations.
Cannabis Samples Still in Question Between Distributors and Retailers
Are samples banned across the board? It’s unclear While dispensaries, brands and event managers are restricted from handing out vials of Kosher Kush or THC-filled chocolate bars to the public, things shift when the relationship is between brand or grow and retailer. When the sales team from the up-and-coming cannabis tea company shows up for their meeting with the dispensary product manager, sampling is still up in the air.
In Washington, the rules regarding sampling between vendors and retailers is laid out in extremely granular detail in state regulations, which say “producers or processors may provide free samples of usable marijuana, marijuana-infused products, and marijuana concentrates in order to negotiate a sale.” The regulations then provide rules about a wide range of sampling subjects, such as the amounts permitted, testing requirements and more. That said, California has yet to lay out a robust plan to allow Distributors to give Retailers a sample of their product before a sale is made.
Looking for free samples? Head to Whole Foods for hummus and pita chips, or Costco for a square of raspberry-speckled dark chocolate. But skip your friendly neighborhood dispensary or expect to pay a little more for the one-cent doobie advertised online!