Chem Tales: Where to Find Legal Weed in the Bay Area

In case you weren't aware, Jan. 5 marks the start of legal recreational sales in S.F. But where can you buy it?

Six weeks after San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed regulations to govern adult use sales of cannabis in the city, the day has finally come. On Jan. 5, anyone 21 and over can take their California ID to a licensed dispensary and buy marijuana hassle-free.

For those asking why other cities like Oakland and Berkeley have beaten San Francisco to the punch by starting sales on Jan. 1, the delay comes from the fact that the Board voted to delay sales by five days in mid-November as details of the equity permitting system continued to be debated.

While the cost won’t be cheap — look for 2018 to be a year focused on how state and local officials ultimately decide which taxes to impose — there is no denying this is a watershed moment for cannabis advocates who have long taken issue with the plant’s legal status as an illicit substance. Whether you plan to use your purchase for medicinal purposes or to enhance a Netflix marathon of Stranger Things 2, the question many San Franciscans are asking is simple: Where do I go?

The first thing to bear in mind is that just because your favorite dispensary sells to card-carrying patients, it doesn’t mean it’ll sell recreational pot, too. For that, a separate permit is required on the state and local levels, and while many of the city’s most popular clubs hope to sell medicinal and recreational cannabis, getting there remains an ongoing process.

Also worth noting is how medicinal marijuana patients will still be able to purchase cannabis as they normally would. In other words, recreational sales will not alter the current system — although it stands to reason that some may opt out of being a patient now that alternative and less-invasive means exist. Currently operating medicinal dispensaries will also be required to get a new permit, but all existing clubs in San Francisco will be grandfathered into the new regulations.

That said, several of the Bay Area’s premiere marijuana destinations have gotten their paperwork in order and are ready to ring in the Green New Year. Here is a rundown on where you can make your first legal purchase, and how a few dispensaries outside of San Francisco already got the party started. This list may seem short, but expect it to grow exponentially. As of Dec. 29, 44 licenses for adult recreational use had already been issued by the state. California Bureau of Cannabis Control spokesperson Alex Traverso told Bloomberg the state hoped to process “several hundred” more permits by weekend’s end.

San Francisco

Flower Power

Address: 70 Second St., SoMa
Adult Sales Status: Starts Jan. 6

As of press time, this is the only San Francisco dispensary to have a temporarily issued state license for recreational sales (a stop-gap while the state finalizes permanent licensing details). A Flower Power rep says the store plans to begin sales on Jan. 6. While no special celebration is planned, they do request interested patrons check back closer to the launch date for any updates.

Berkeley

Berkeley Patients Group

Address: 2366 San Pablo Ave.
Adult Sales Status: Available

The recipients of the fifth license issued by California, Berkeley Patients Group didn’t waste one second by opening at the earliest possible time allowed on the first day of recreational sales. Those who fought through their New Year’s Eve hangovers enjoyed a ribbon-cutting ceremony and an appearance from Mayor Jesse Arreguin.

Oakland

Purple Heart Patient Center
Address: 415 Fourth St.
Adult Sales Status: Available

Another dispensary that got into the act ASAP, Purple Heart Patient Center in Jack London Square also opened at 6 a.m. on Jan. 1 for a celebration of free breakfast tacos and swag bags for the first 100 attendees who spent $100 or more.

Harborside
Address: 1840 Embarcadero
Adult Sales Status: Available

Of course, no one expected noted cannabis activist and entrepreneur Steve DeAngelo to miss out on the fun. The Oakland chapter of his Harborside dispensary followed suit with a 6 a.m. opening on Jan. 1 that included a live brass band and free flags and shirts for the first 100 people in line. Speaking to KTVU, DeAngelo called the occasion “historical” and noted that January 1 marked an end to  “110 years of propaganda and prohibition.”

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