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Not to be confused with Hospital, early examples of which were called dispensaries.
A marijuana dispensary.

A dispensary is an office in a school, hospital, industrial plant, or other organization that dispenses medications, medical supplies, and in some cases even medical and dental treatment. In a traditional dispensary set-up, a pharmacist dispenses medication as per prescription or order form. The English term originated from the medieval Latin noun dispensaria and is cognate with the Latin verb dispensare, "to distribute".[1]

The advent of huge industrial plants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as large steel mills, created a demand for in-house first responder services, including firefighting, emergency medical services, and even primary care that were closer to the point of need, under closer company control, and in many cases better capitalized than any services that the surrounding town could provide. In such contexts, company doctors and nurses were regularly on duty or on call.

Electronic dispensaries are designed to ensure efficient and consistent dispensing of excipient and active ingredients in a secure data environment with full audit traceability. A standard dispensary system consists of a range of modules such as manual dispensing, supervisory, bulk dispensing, recipe management and interfacing with external systems. Such a system might dispense much more than just medical related products like alcohol, tobacco or vitamins and minerals.

Primary care (Kenya)[edit]

In Kenya, a dispensary is a small outpatient health facility, usually managed by a registered nurse. It provides the most basic primary healthcare services to rural communities, e.g. childhood immunization, family planning, wound dressing and management of common ailments like colds, diarrhea and simple malaria. The nurses report to the nursing officer at the health center, where they refer patients with complicated diseases to be managed by clinical officers.

Primary care (India)[edit]

In India, a dispensary refers to a small setup with basic medical facilities where a doctor can provide a primary level of care. It doesn't have a hospitalization facility and is generally owned by single doctor. In remote areas of India where hospital facilities are not available, dispensaries will be available.

Alcohol (USA)[edit]

The term "dispensary" in the United States was used to refer to government agencies that sell alcoholic beverages, particularly in the state of Idaho and the South Carolina.

Cannabis (North America)[edit]

In Arizona, British Columbia, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Oregon, Michigan, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Ontario, Quebec, and Washington, medical cannabis is sold in specially designated stores called dispensaries or "compassion clubs". In Canada dispensaries are far less abundant, with the majority being in British Columbia and Ontario.[2]

Cannabis (Uruguay)[edit]

in 2013 Uruguay became the first country to legalize marijuana cultivation, sale and consumption. The government is building a network of dispensaries that are meant to help to track marijuana sales and consumption. The move was meant to decrease role of criminal world in distribution and sales of it.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, Merriam-Webster. 
  2. ^ "List of Canadian dispensaries". List of Canadian dispensaries. 
  3. ^ Carless, Will (2015-01-07) Uruguay's Year In Marijuana: 3 Successes, 3 Burning Questions. NBC News. Retrieved on 2015-12-17.