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Medical Cannabis in San Francisco, California

Although state laws generally apply statewide, there are some slight differences between different locales. Some cities are more tolerant than others, and some places prefer to keep non-medical cannabis dispensaries out of town entirely!


San Francisco is generally quite tolerant of cannabis, but his doesn’t mean there aren’t any rules. You cannot smoke, vape or eat 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.
  • In private homes where the owner doesn’t want cannabis consumption taking place.


You can consume cannabis:


  • In private homes if the owner allows it or if it’s your own home.
  • In a dispensary that has a consumption lounge – unique to San Francisco.


Some sites in California are policed by federal authorities, meaning that cannabis consumption is prohibited in such areas. These sites include:


  • Airports
  • National parks
  • Federal buildings
  • Military installations


Among the areas that are federal lands in the San Francisco Bay Area are the Presidio, Alcatraz Island, the Marin Headlands and Ocean Beach.


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.

Having a valid medical marijuana recommendation and card may give you some leeway, but in California this is at the discretion of the employer.


Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal. Also, if you are driving with cannabis, you must keep it sealed or in the trunk – no open containers


San Francisco is one of the few places in California (and in the country) where public use of cannabis onsite in cannabis lounges is allowed. As far as using cannabis outside goes, avoid using cannabis in public parks or near schools. Keep it away from children and busy public areas (some of which have restricted cannabis smoking), and you should be OK.


As for how San Franciscans approach cannabis, here’s a few quotes:

“Every cannabis user is a medical patient whether they know it or not.: Dennis Peron.


“There’s an immediate need to create access for everyday people.” – Erich Pearson


““Today, I believe there is no such thing as the recreational use of cannabis. The concept is equally embraced by prohibitionists and self-professed stoners, but it is self-limiting and profoundly unhealthy. Defining cannabis consumption as elective recreation ignores fundamental human biology and history, and devalues the very real benefits the plant provides.
Dennis Peron, the man who opened the first cannabis dispensary in the U.S., has been derided for saying that all marijuana use is medical. I would make the same point a bit differently: the vast majority of cannabis use is for wellness purposes. The exception to the rule is misuse; any psychoactive material can and will be problematic for some percentage of the population—cannabis included.”
― Steve DeAngelo, The Cannabis Manifesto: A New Paradigm for Wellness


As for quotes about San Francisco itself …


“I have always been rather better treated in San Francisco than I actually deserved.”  – Mark Twain


“I can walk down the streets of San Francisco, and here I’m normal.” – Robin Williams


“I don’t think San Francisco needs defending. I never meet anyone who doesn’t love the place, Americans or others.” Doris Lessing


As for things there are to do for a cannabis enthusiast in San Francisco, there’s plenty, including (and we give some suggestions for many cities) …


Plenty of places to hike, from the Redwoods of Marin to the shorelines to Wildcat Canyon.

Go to one of the homes of the cannabis legalization movement, Golden Gate Park.

Some great places to eat. Chez Panisse is known the world over, but their alumni have started other, more affrodable spaces to eat like the Ramen Shop. Other San Francisco institutions include The Cheeseboard, Zachary’s and the huge number of great Mexican eateries, from Sinaloa to Tacos Mi Rancho to La Tacqueria to La Mission to La Capi to … Well, you get the idea! There is high-quality food everywhere!

Brunch is a very important meal in this part of town.

Groceries can be quite expensive. Asian and Mexican markets are more likely to have more affordable food that is also good quality.

A number of planetariums.

Plenty of places to get active, especially if you like hiking, running, cycling, Yoga and so on.

Plenty of cultural activities. Film, theater, music of all kinds – San Francisco has it!


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