One of the most beautiful and beloved metropolitan destinations in the world, the enchanting oceanside city of San Francisco, California could truly be considered the birthplace of legal cannabis in the US. The city was the first in the nation to permit medicinal marijuana use, paving the way for future legalization efforts. San Francisco (known to locals as simply “The City”) is now home to over 40 recreational and medical cannabis dispensaries and has retained its reputation as a sanctuary for medical marijuana patients, cannabis enthusiasts, and tourists alike. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know before visiting a San Francisco dispensary for the first time – plus how and where to find the best dispensaries in The City by the Bay.
For information beyond the San Francisco Bay Area, our California dispensary guide offers an in-depth look at the current cannabis market, regulations, and the best statewide dispensaries in California. For even more history and interesting cannabis dispensary information, don’t miss our complete guide to dispensaries in the US. And look out for more in-depth California city dispensary guides over the weeks to come.
Buzz Delivery was recently mentioned as One of the Best San Francisco Cannabis Delivery Services by CNBS Journal. Read the entire article here.
The History of San Francisco’s Dispensaries
Decades before enacting its groundbreaking medical marijuana legislation, San Francisco had already gained notoriety as a cannabis-friendly haven. The city was a cultural hub for both the Beat poets of the 1950s and the hippies of the 1960s, two groups who fully embraced the consciousness-expanding benefits of marijuana – legal or not. To this day, a free 420 celebration is still held every year at the aptly-named “Hippie Hill” in Golden Gate Park.
Through the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, San Francisco’s queer community embraced marijuana for its ability to ease the debilitating symptoms of the disease. After losing his partner to AIDS, Vietnam War veteran and counterculture activist Dennis Peron began campaigning heavily to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in San Francisco.
In 1991, Peron’s “Proposition P” received 79% voter support, and he went on to found the San Francisco Buyers Club in 1992. This unofficial dispensary, smoking lounge, and activism hub was located on Church Street in the Duboce Triangle neighborhood. The Buyers Club quickly grew to include over eight thousand members, who eventually combined forces to campaign for the passage of Proposition 215, which legalized medical marijuana throughout California in 1996. Twenty years later, in 2016, California voted to also legalize recreational cannabis use.
San Francisco Cannabis Equity Program
Due to the disproportionate damage the failed “War on Drugs” has inflicted upon marginalized communities throughout the US prohibition of cannabis, San Francisco has taken steps to ensure BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people have access of entry to this new market. The San Francisco Cannabis Equity Program aims to reduce the financial and societal barriers traditionally preventing marginalized individuals from entrepreneurship at this level. The program has been highly successful, with The City now home to many thriving minority-owned cannabusinesses, and is considered a leading example for similar restorative justice programs in other US cities.
Where are Most of San Francisco’s Dispensaries?
San Francisco, the third largest city in California, is currently home to over 50 dispensaries, each with its own distinct style, aesthetic, and vibe – from modern minimalist to flower child artsy to ultra-luxe. San Francisco is also served by numerous cannabis delivery services, making it easy to access top-shelf weed no matter where you are in The City.
The highest concentration of San Francisco dispensaries is in its north-central to northeastern neighborhoods, particularly the Outer Mission area and downtown. While it only has a few of its own dispensaries, the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, located in the heart of the city, just east of Golden Gate Park, is the San Francisco neighborhood most often associated with cannabis. Haight-Ashbury has a storied history as a hippie haven and was home to the very first “head shop” in the 1960s, earning it the affectionate stoner nickname “Hashbury.” On the other hand, there are pockets of San Francisco without any dispensaries, such as the Sunset District, to the south of Golden Gate Park.
San Francisco Cannabis Consumption Lounges
One of the things that sets San Francisco apart as a cannabis connoisseur’s dream destination is its marijuana consumption lounges. The City currently hosts 10 of these lounges, each attached to a dispensary, and each with an excellent reputation and a unique atmosphere of its own. Guests must be 21 or older and must make a dispensary purchase to gain admittance to a San Francisco cannabis lounge. Some of these locations allow visitors to use smokeable cannabis while others only allow edibles and concentrates. Alcohol and tobacco use are prohibited by law. Some cannabis lounges regularly host karaoke, comedy shows, live music, or other entertainment, while others maintain a consistently low-key vibe, but each provides a unique venue to legally imbibe and socialize.