Know your rights as a cannabis consumer
Rules about buying and using cannabis in San Francisco.
It is legal in California to buy and use cannabis if you are 21 or older. But, like tobacco and alcohol, there are laws that you need to follow.
Buying, selling and growing cannabis in San Francisco
You can only buy cannabis from licensed retailers.
Adults can buy and carry:
- Up to 1 ounce (28.5 grams) of cannabis
- Up to 8 grams of concentrated cannabis
You can only sell cannabis if you have a Retail Cannabis Permit from San Francisco and a license from California.
You can grow up to 6 cannabis plants in your home or in a locked and enclosed yard. It must not be visible to the public, and the property owner must approve.
If you have a Medical Marijuana ID card, you can buy, carry, and grow more.
Securing your cannabis
You must lock up cannabis and cannabis products away from children and pets.
Cannabis for medical use
To buy medical cannabis, you need a Medical Marijuana ID card or a doctor’s recommendation. You do not pay sales tax if you buy cannabis with a Medical Marijuana ID card.
- Grow up to 12 cannabis plants for your own use
- Buy up to 8 ounces of flower
You can buy even more than 8 ounces if your doctor recommends it.
Using cannabis in San Francisco
You cannot smoke, eat, vape, or use cannabis:
- In public places, like parks and sidewalks
- Near schools or anywhere with children (you can’t even carry cannabis at places like day care centers)
- Inside most buildings, like workplaces, restaurants and bars, entertainment venues, and the common areas of multi-unit housing
- At outdoor public events like music festivals, street fairs and parades
Generally, you cannot smoke or vape cannabis in places where you cannot smoke tobacco.
You can use cannabis in private homes if the owner allows it.
You can consume cannabis in a dispensary that has a consumption lounge.
Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal and you can be arrested, fined, and have your license suspended.
You cannot drive or ride in a vehicle with an open container of cannabis. Cannabis must be sealed or kept in the trunk.
Cannabis at work
Employers can still:
- Have a drug and alcohol-free workplace
- Require drug tests for employees
- Turn you down for a job because you use cannabis
- Fire you, demote you, or take other action against you for using cannabis
Cannabis is still considered an illegal drug by the federal government. You can be arrested or prosecuted for buying or using cannabis on federal land.
Many places in California are policed by federal authorities. They include, but are not limited to:
- National parks
- Federal buildings
- Military installations
If you are not a US citizen, using cannabis or working in the cannabis industry can hurt your immigration status. You should get legal advice before leaving the United States or applying for naturalization.
Rules about buying and using cannabis in San Francisco.
Tourist Guide To San Francisco Recreational Marijuana Dispensaries
Vacationing in San Francisco is always an appealing proposition, but now that California’s recreational marijuana laws are in place, it has become a much more stoner-friendly vacation spot. While many other states across the country have moved to legalize marijuana, not all of them are quite so friendly to cannabis tourism as California. In particular, San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area offer unique experiences that haven’t caught on in other recreational states yet. On top of your standard (and not-so-standard) dispensaries, the Bay Area is also home to some of the only cannabis lounges in the United States, making it an ideal stop for those that are interested in marijuana tourism.
With the wide variety of experiences and products on offer, the process of navigating the Bay Area cannabis scene as a tourist or a newbie can be overwhelming. That’s why I’ve curated a list of the most tourist-friendly dispensaries in San Francisco, along with heaps of info about why each of them made the list. Enjoy your trip!
is very tourist-friendly and a great place to check out for first-time marijuana users. They offer a special experience among San Francisco’s dispensaries. Their budtenders are friendly and do their best to educate their customers and help them make confident purchases based on their needs. They offer a wide variety of high-quality products, including flower, concentrates, and edibles. Most of what they have on offer is sourced from the Bay Area, and some are even made in San Francisco. They also have some of the best deals in the city, and it’s not uncommon for them to invite vendors to showcase their products and offer product samples to customers.
Barbary Coast is also an excellent spot If you’re looking for a casual experience in an upscale lounge. With all the hardwood and leather, it feels both comfortable and classy. Their smoke lounge is one of the best in the world, with smoking equipment available to rent and a dab bar for concentrates. On top of all of that, Barbary Coast is located downtown, right near major tourist spots like Union Square, Yerba Buena, SF MOMA, and the massive Westfield Mall. It’s also incredibly easy to access using public transportation like BART and MUNI. Its central location in the city and the ability to hop on a bus or train make it easy to include it in your schedule as you plan adventures to Golden Gate Park or other parts of the Bay Area after hitting the smoke lounge. You can also check out their visitor center if you’d like to elevate your experience and take advantage of their –5% off all merchandise.
Urban Pharm is one of San Francisco’s most aesthetically pleasing dispensaries. Like other Bay Area dispensaries, it boasts a dab bar and lounge, but unlike other dispensaries, Urban Pharm has strayed away from the standard industrial/hipster decor theme and added a steampunk twist. Their smoke lounge has a touch of steampunk, Victorian flare. But the decor isn’t the only standout factor: Urban Pharm is one of the few cannabis lounges that allows open flames, which makes it an ideal place to settle in with your own pipe, joint, or blunt after purchasing some of their premium product. They also provide dab rigs on-site. If that doesn’t pique your interest… well, I’m not sure what will.
The cherry on top is that they’re also located near downtown in San Francisco’s SOMA district. It’s super easy to stop by while trekking around to a variety of the city’s major attractions. You can get an assortment of goodies here and enjoy them all in the lounge before exploring the rest of the city or getting lunch. The staff is really friendly and helpful and ready to answer all questions that you might have.
Oh–and make sure to say hi to Wilbur, Urban Pharm’s steampunk pig mascot, on your way out!
Sparc has two locations in San Francisco, one in the Lower Height and one in the Mission. Both of these locations are near some of the most interesting parts of San Francisco. The Haight was at the center of the Summer of Love and the hippie movement, and the Mission has long been home to artists, activists, and an insane amount of great food. If you’re interested in exploring San Francisco like a local, Sparc should definitely be on itinerary. You can sit down in their snazzy, state-of-the-art vape lounge and enjoy a break before taking selfies at the famous Haight & Ashbury intersection or before getting burritos in the Mission and going to Dolores Park. You might even get lucky and go on a day that they’re doing free samples for well-known Bay Area marijuana products.
The Apothecarium is a great dispensary to check out if you’re visiting San Francisco’s Castro or Marina District. The Apothecarium is an upscale dispensary with a wide range of cannabis products available for recreational use.
While the prices here tend to be higher than most places in the city, the locations make up for it. The Castro district is beautiful, historical, and has a long history as an LGBT+-friendly neighborhood. It also has great places to shop and a historically awesome bar scene. The Marina is equally beautiful and offers amazing views of the San Francisco Bay. It’s also home to a ton of clubs that come to life as the sun goes down, as well as Fort Mason. This old military fort often plays host to conferences, concerts, and a massive food truck festival boasting 30+ of the Bay Area’s best mobile food trucks called Off The Grid .
Unfortunately, neither Apothecarium location offers a smoke lounge, so you won’t be able to consume any products on-site. But if you go to the Castro location, you can venture to the famous Dolores Park, which is known for having an ever-present smell suspiciously reminiscent of marijuana. But of course, smoking weed outdoors is illegal, and I would never advocate for tourists to smoke up there, so do so at your own risk. For the less risk-averse among us, the Apothecarium is a nice place to stop at for edibles before enjoying the rest of your day.
East Bay Therapeutics
While all of the dispensaries on this list bring something interesting to the table, East Bay Therapeutics is truly unique and has a lot to offer. East Bay Therapeutics is located across the the Bay Bridge from San Francisco in Emeryville. Though it’s not located in San Francisco, it’s well worth the journey for those that are looking to explore the wider Bay Area and see more than just San Francisco. East Bay Therapeutics has a great range of products available from well-known cannabis brands. They have an awesome, knowledgeable staff who can be very helpful when you’re having a hard time deciding what you need. East Bay Therapeutics also offers some wonderful wellness services for its customers, including yoga, guided meditation, CBD juicing, and lessons in cannabis culinary arts. They also offer virtual reality games, including VR Drone Racing.
They also have a cannabis lounge for those who would like to consume marijuana on-site, so it’s a great choice for tourists. If you have the time to explore outside of San Francisco while visiting the Bay Area, I highly recommend checking out East Bay Therapeutics in Emeryville. After that a visit to a place as fantastic as this, you’ll probably have the munchies. For the carnivores out there, I highly recommend that you get a bite to eat at Fuddruckers . They offer a variety of exotic burgers, including ones made from boar, ostrich, and elk. Best of all, it’s only a seven-minute Uber ride away from East Bay Therapeutics!
Magnolia is less of a dispensary and more of a lifestyle. Located in the heart of Oakland, it’s the best the town has to offer, and that’s saying a lot. Aside from their absolutely fabulous cannabis lounge, Magnolia offers services other dispensaries haven’t even considered. They offer free (yes, free!) fifteen-minute massages and chiropractic services to all members. For those of you who have paid for massages or chiropractic visits in the past, you know how valuable these services. How amazing is it that you can get a back rub before you go float away in Magnolia’s vape lounge after dabbing some of their most potent concentrates?
One thing that’s important to keep in mind: these wellness services are only offered on Wednesdays, so try to plan your trip to Oakland with that in mind. What better way to enjoy your vacation than getting a free spa treatment and enjoying some nice edibles and the finest weed in Oakland?
While you’re in the town, you can also check out Puff Pass Paint classes. These are cannabis activity groups in Oakland that offer fun, low-key activities, including weed and wine tours, painting classes, pottery classes, and baking classes where you are encouraged to use cannabis products. These classes are BYOC (Bring Your Own Cannabis), so make sure to get some goodies at Magnolia before you go. I also recommend taking the time to explore Oakland. The city often gets a bad rap, but there’s a ton of amazing restaurants and culture to explore throughout the city.
The Bay Area is one of the best places to visit if you’re interested in weed tourism. The amazing culture and sightseeing opportunities have made this a destination for years, but the high-quality cannabis products and legal cannabis lounges make the Bay Area even more unique. If you’re a tourist and planning your next adventure, don’t pass us up. We’re happy to have you, and you’ll be happy you visited. Especially after checking out our dispensaries!
Cael S. San Francisco, CA
Cael is a writer and journalist based in San Francisco. He is an advocate for legal, safe recreational marijuana and strives to educate audiences about cannabis.
If you are a tourist traveling to San Francisco this guide will help you with finding the best recreational marijuana dispensaries for buying cannabis products.