If you're new to Washington DC or just tired of getting scammed by people you find on the local directories, have no fear. We've got you covered with an all-encompassing guide on how to buy weed in DC safely from trusted, reputable small businesses.
DC has a super weird cannabis industry.
If you've never been here, Washington DC's cannabis operates in what's known as a gift economy. DC Initiative 71 legalized weed, but it made it so that it's still illegal to sell weed, meaning that no dispensaries can operate here. However, the legislation states that it can be given away for free— like a gift.
That's why whenever you're shopping for weed here, you have to buy something to get the weed for free. Take us, for example. You're going to pay $30 for a sticker, but you'll get a free vape cart with it. At other businesses, you buy things like t-shirts, advice, or the baggy that holds the weed for a markup and get your herb for free.
That's where things get a little dicey, though. Our industry is insanely unregulated. No standard testing or operating procedures exist, and anybody can sell weed this way. That's why it can be so challenging to find a reliable business that meets you on time and brings you the items as they were described.
Since our industry is unregulated, most of us can't advertise on legitimate platforms like Leafly, Where's Weed, or Weedmaps. So we're limited to DC-specific directories and listing platforms like 420DC, Toker's Guide, Gentleman Toker, etc. And that's where things get even crazier.
Businesses can pay to play on those platforms, so there's a lot of misinformation out there in the form of sponsored articles, fake reviews, and flowery listings. With that said, many businesses can look insanely legitimate and still hustle you hard. That's why it's more important than ever to be aware of what's happening around you so you can separate the wheat from the chaff in your endeavor to find weed in DC.
How to avoid getting scammed when buying weed in DC
As mentioned, there are a lot of colorful characters on those listing sites. That doesn't mean that all of them are bad or that they shouldn't be trusted or anything like that— it just means that you need to know what you're looking at and be aware of some of the tricks some businesses use to get ahead.
For example, you can request a media kit from any of the major DC listing websites, and they'll get back to you with a pricing guide and all of the placement options they have on their site. Again, that's not a bad thing. That's a standard marketing practice. The issue comes from the fact that some companies will offer to load your listing up with fake reviews that read like personal reviews, which is dishonest.
Look out for fake reviews.
There's a good chance that if you're seeing hundreds of reviews on a listing that isn't very old, has a small selection of products, and doesn't link back to an actual website; you're looking at something dishonest. You should be aware that this is standard practice for businesses in our city.
Look out for reviews that say the same exact thing in different ways. If "excellent quality excellent service, I have never had a problem" and "Excellent quality excellent service, I have never had an issue" are right next to each other in a list of reviews, there's a good chance that those reviews aren't real. It helps to look at negative reviews first— those are the humans. Stay far away if you see recent negative reviews buried under an overwhelming number of positive ones.
Make sure you're getting authentic products.
Another thing you want to be mindful of is pictures. You want to see real photos of the products you're potentially buying before you buy them so you don't get misled. Sometimes pictures on a listing look real but are stolen from Instagram or elsewhere on the internet and don't reflect the quality of what you're purchasing. You should be able to communicate with your driver directly and take a good look at what you're buying before you try it.
Double-check those reviews for any mentions of counterfeit, fake, or knockoff products, too. Those can be potentially very dangerous for your health, and you don't want to buy anything that will make you sick when you're just trying to have a good time.
Make sure the company is legit.
Speaking of communication, if the company doesn't communicate with you quickly and respectfully, you don't want to work with them. If you get bad or rude customer service from the get-go, they don't deserve your money. They're going to throw you a bag of shake and then speed off, and with so many other companies out there willing to go the extra mile, you don't want to waste your time.
But let's be honest: everyone has a bad day sometimes, and customer service isn't always perfect. The biggest thing to worry about is whether or not the company you want to buy from is following the law. You can get in trouble for purchasing weed outside of Washington DC, so never trust a company willing to meet you outside city limits. The company should check your ID before they meet you, and they should never try to sell you weed directly. When you shop, always ask for the gift menu to protect yourself.
What to look for in a reputable gifting company
Reputable gifting companies can also be found on many listing sites and cannabis directories, but you have to do your research to find them. You'll notice that there is a little overlap in everyone's business practices, but reputable companies are easier to spot than you might think.
Some bad reviews are okay.
As we mentioned, you want to look for negative reviews and see what they say. If they're talking about fake products or really crappy customer service, you'll more than likely want to stay away. But on the other hand, if the negative reviews are a little nit-picky about delivery speed or pricing and things along those lines, there's a good chance that they're still reputable.
Bad reviews happen. It doesn't mean the business is bad— unless what they're all saying makes them bad. Look at how recently the negative reviews were posted and consider that if they're very old, the business has likely made some internal changes to fix those issues. As long as the reviews aren't overwhelmingly negative, you're good to go as long as there are plenty of positive ones too.
Look for real photos and ask questions.
Again, you really need to see what you're buying before you agree to buy it. Not all listings have many pictures, so check out their website to see if their store products have authentic imagery.
If you can't find imagery but you see a good mix of positive and mildly-negative reviews, you can always reach out to the business directly and see if they'll snap a couple of pictures for you. A legitimate company will be happy to share images of the products with you, especially if their stock is good and they know it'll help seal the deal. If they don't respond or don't communicate quickly or respectfully, they're not worth your time or money, and it's best to keep looking.
Does the business look legit online?
Last but not least, get a big picture of the business. You'll want to see a website, and you'll want to be able to order online, especially if you prefer the streamlined approach. But there are still legitimate businesses out there that don't have websites, so take a good look at their listings. Do they have a menu with a variety of products? Are the prices listed and reasonable? Are they offering any deals or incentives, like loyalty programs or coupons? Is the contact information visible? Do they have a good mix of reviews?
You can also take a look at their social media profiles to see if you can get a better idea of the items they sell and the items on their gift menus. Ask yourself how long the page has been published and how often they post, and use that as social proof that a business is either legitimate or illegitimate.
Red flags vs. Green flags
To summarize, there are a lot of good signs and a lot of bad signs to watch out for when you're browsing listings in Washington DC. We'll start with the good signs.
Fast, courteous communication and customer service
Functional website and contact information or social media handles
Good variety of products and deals
Long-standing listings with positive reviews from actual people
Negative reviews aren't overwhelmingly negative
Real photos of the products on the listing or on the website
Other incentives such as deals, loyalty programs, giveaways, and other rewards
Poor customer service and unfriendly communication
No website or contact information outside of the listing
Recent, overwhelmingly negative reviews buried under hundreds of positive ones
Reviews that mention inauthentic or fake products
Reviews that mention unprofessionalism
No real photos of products
Lots of sponsored articles and advertisements (only when coupled with other red flags)
Companies that sell weed directly (illegally) instead of gifting it
Companies willing to meet you outside of DC limits
When in doubt, trust Flower Avenue.
We ourselves are listed on a handful of review sites, so keep in mind that this post isn't meant to bash anybody's business for utilizing marketing and advertising to amplify their brand. We at Flower Ave want residents and tourists in Washington DC to be aware that while many companies are authentic, some are not. Use this guide to help you shop for weed in Washington DC safely and find a delivery service you can trust.
If you're still on the fence, you can always shop here. Please browse our extensive store and get a glimpse of authentic pictures of our products, or take a look at our genuine personal reviews on 420DC. When you shop with us, you get access to our monthly giveaway, loyalty and rewards programs, and all kinds of great deals.
We're looking forward to serving you soon.