A cannabis dispensary in Denver, Colorado.

A cannabis shop, cannabis dispensary, or cannabis cooperative, is a location at which cannabis is sold for recreational or medical use. In the Netherlands these are called coffeeshops.[1] In the United States they exist as an outlet for both recreational and medical use. These shops differ from head shops in that the latter sells only drug paraphernalia. In 2015, the City of San Diego made A Green Alternative the first licensed medical cannabis dispensary and delivery service in the city.[2] The world's largest cannabis dispensary is in Las Vegas, Nevada at 112,000 square feet opened by Planet 13 Holdings.[3][4]


Main article: Coffeeshop (Netherlands)

Cannabis selling coffeeshops began in the 1970s. Establishments like Mellow Yellow coffeeshop were known for open cannabis smoking and dealing. After an explosion of hard drugs authorities began to tolerate soft drugs and legalized cannabis selling in registered coffeeshops.[5]


Government-owned cannabis dispensary in British Columbia, Canada

See also: Cannabis dispensaries in the United States

In Canada and certain territories of the United States, dispensaries distribute cannabis to the general public or in some cases only to approved patients.[6] In Uruguay cannabis dispensaries are built by the government and can sell to the public.[7]

Dispensaries in Canada are also popularly known as cannabis stores (Canadian English).

Cannabis social club

Main article: Cannabis Social Club

A Cannabis social club (CSC) is a non-profit members-only industry model for non-medical cannabis. CSCs do not "sell" cannabis but grow the amount needed for their members in exchange for the costs of production, a form of delegation of home cultivation to the club. CSCs exist in New Zealand, Spain[8] Belgium,[9] France,[10] the Netherlands,[11] Slovenia,[12] Austria.[13] and Germany.[14] They are regulated by law in Uruguay (since 2014) and Malta (since 2021).

Bhang shop

Main article: Bhang

A bhang shop in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India.

In India, several Indian states allow licensed bhang shops to sell bhang, a decoction of cannabis. They mainly sell traditional cannabis-infused Indian bhang drinks Bhang lassi and Bhang thandai.


  1. ^ "Dutch cannabis cafe owners fight changes - BBC News". BBC News. 27 April 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  2. ^ "Inside San Diego's First Legal, Medical Pot Shop". NBC San Diego. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  3. ^ Chen, Angela (2018-11-15). "We visited the world's largest cannabis dispensary". The Verge. Retrieved 2019-06-25.
  4. ^ Im, Jimmy (2018-11-03). "The world's largest cannabis dispensary just opened in Vegas—and it has an entertainment complex attached". CNBC. Retrieved 2019-06-25.
  5. ^ "Amsterdam Coffeeshops Guide". amsterdam.info. Retrieved 2017-11-11.
  6. ^ "List of Canadian dispensaries". Archived from the original on 2012-06-11.
  7. ^ Carless, Will (2015-01-07) Uruguay's Year In Marijuana: 3 Successes, 3 Burning Questions. NBC News. Retrieved on 2015-12-17.
  8. ^ Hanf Journal: Spanien: Gerichtsverfahren gegen Cannabis-Anbau-Clubs eingestellt! Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine 13. Decembre 2006
  9. ^ Hanf Journal: Freispruch für „Trekt Uw Plant“, 15. March 2010
  10. ^ "Bientôt des "cannabistrots" ?". Libération.fr.
  11. ^ VOC Nederland: Primeur: kijkje in eerste Nederlandse Cannabis Social Club, Tree of Life Amsterdam, 27.10.2014
  12. ^ Medijuana Magazin: "Dem Ganja verdanke ich mein Leben", 5. Februar 2014
  13. ^ ORF Salzburg: Marihuana: Club fordert Legalisierung, 14.05.2014
  14. ^ Hanf Journal: Die Eastside Growers: Handeln, nicht quatschen, 1.3.2011