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

A dispensary is an office in a school, hospital or other organization that dispenses medications, medical supplies and dental treatment. In a traditional dispensary set-up, a pharmacist dispenses medication as per prescription or order form. It originated from medieval Latin word dispensarium (neuter of a word dispensarius) and Latin word dispensare.[1]

Electronic dispensaries are designed to ensure efficient and consistent dispensing of excipient and active materials 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.

Alcohol (USA)[edit]

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


In Arizona, British Columbia, California, Colorado, Maine, Oregon, Michigan, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Ontario, Quebec, and Washington, medical cannabis is sold in specially designated stores called dispensaries or "compassion clubs". Many states with medical marijuana laws do not permit dispensaries to operate due to their highly controversial existence.[citation needed] Marijuana dispensaries in United States might sell also rolling papers, blunts and vaporizer pen mix.[2] Despite support among the medical cannabis community they aren't technically legal in either country. Medical cannabis dispensaries are abundant in American states that permit use, however; the DEA continues to raid these dispensaries and the Federal government continues to prosecute individuals operating them.[citation needed] In Canada dispensaries are far less abundant, with the majority being in British Columbia and Ontario.[3] They too are frequently raided by Police as the Canadian government and Health Canada do not legally recognize nor permit their existence.[4] Marijuana dispensaries are unregulated in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Israel, Italy, Finland, and Portugal - some companies are operating them there using loopholes in law despite constant interventions from authorities.

Primary Care Facility (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.


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.


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.[5]

See also[edit]