The first US head shop might have opened in 1964 – or maybe it was 1966. The interwebs disagree on the date, but the place was definitely Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. The city has a long and storied history with the reefer madness. And while cannabis dispensaries have existed legally in San Francisco since 1996, the recreational consumption aspect has definitely changed the game. Today’s cannabis consumer – no longer confined to a shady deal in an alley or wondering if their plug got too high to deliver – is looking for not only the tried-and-true items but the next, new thing. Enter the modern cannabis dispensary. Dispensaries have to be able to welcome the curious and connoisseur with equal aplomb. Concepts run the gamut from austere to indulgent; bodega to boutique. And while a quick internet search will turn up thousands of cannabis guides, there is no substitute for a real person passing on real information. Budtenders are an integral part of the dispensary experience. A budtender needs to be equal parts librarian, sommelier, and science teacher. Here are the best dispensaries – with the best service – the Bay Area has to offer.
#1 HARBORSIDE Dispensaries and Delivery
Harborside, the original legal cannabis retailer in California, has played an instrumental role in making cannabis safe and accessible to a broad and diverse community since 2006. It was awarded one of the first six cannabis licenses granted in the United States and became the first licensed dispensary in California. Many of California’s leading brands were launched at Harborside, reinforcing its industry legacy. Today, customers have the benefit of shopping at their leisure with open shelves and engaging with knowledgeable budtenders when needed.
Initially founded as a patient collective, Harborside continues to be a pioneer of compassionate care programs and therapeutics. They were the first cannabis retailer in the nation to not only demand rigorous testing for all products to ensure they are free of pesticides and other impurities and contain verifiable potency levels of THC and CBD, but also the first to support cannabis education for seniors and veterans.
Harborside operates three major dispensaries in the Bay Area; San Francisco, Oakland (its flagship store – where you can find upwards of 800 unique products), and San Leandro – Oakland and San Francisco can take advantage of Harborside’s excellent delivery service. Other locations include San Jose, and the Palm Springs area – with Southern California’s only cannabis drive-thru window.
#2 URBN LEAF Dispensaries and Delivery
Urbn Leaf features sleek, high-end, modern shopping environments. With a mix of open shelves and apothecary service, the comfortable atmosphere and professional assistance offered invite discovery and conversation for the canna-curious as well as cannabis devotees. They even feature in-store product demonstrations to engage and enlighten customers. Urbn Leaf budtenders pride themselves on being educated, knowledgeable, friendly and approachable.
Urbn Leaf has been at the forefront of normalizing a cannabis lifestyle by creating engaging programs for urbanites as well as active aging communities, through education, community interactions, and social equity programs. They often partner with non-cannabis community organizations to better the neighborhoods they are a part of, and to challenge perceptions and overturn stereotypes about cannabis culture.
A true California cannabis retailer, from Bay to border, Urbn Leaf has grown to nine locations: San Jose, Seaside, Grover Beach, La Mesa, Grossmont, Vista, San Diego, San Ysidro, and their newest location in West Hollywood on Sunset Blvd. Vista and San Diego Urbn Leaf also offer an outstanding delivery service.
#3 MISSION ORGANIC Dispensary
Established in 2012, Mission Organic Center is recognized as one of the oldest recreational and medical cannabis collectives in San Francisco. Their mission is to create an unrivaled customer service experience for each and every customer. In addition to high-quality recreational cannabis options, they carry a wide range of medicinal products. Mission Organic’s friendly, personable, and knowledgeable staff work directly with patients to find the medication that can best suit specific needs. Looking for some recreational cannabis? You will find an array of concentrates, edibles, cartridges, topicals, tinctures, pre-rolls and quality CBD products.
Mission Organic is dedicated to supporting Equity Brands and hiring Equity staff whenever possible.
Mission Organic is located in the Outer Mission District. Just look for the iconic green Edwardian facade. They even offer Delivery!
#4 CEAS COLLECTIVE Delivery
CEAS Collective (Compassion, Energy, Altruism, Community) was founded in 2004 on the belief that the health and wellness potentials of cannabis should be widely available to all in need. They are committed to cannabis education and exploring the remarkable natural ways to find relief from stress, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain.
The collective offers a wide variety of your favorite brands like Wonderbrett, The Green Privilege, and Alien Labs, in addition to their own premium in-house flower. They take quality seriously and offer only the best California cannabis for delivery. Delivery cost is just $5, and you get your choice of affordably priced premium flower, concentrates, and more. Moon rock? Vapes? They’ve got that – and pre-rolls too! CEAS operates in LA, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and the Peninsula.
#5 SAVA Delivery
Sava Delivery is obsessed. They believe flower should never be grown with pesticides, extracts should always be clean and potent, and you should be able to find edibles, tinctures, and topicals with clean, healthy ingredients that support your well-being. The flower they sell is sun-grown or sustainably grown indoors, vapes and concentrates are always free from fillers and additives, and they feature edibles for every single dietary need. California grows the finest cannabis and you don’t need to be an expert to find it. Let Sava do the work for you.
The brands you’ll find for delivery to the greater San Francisco Bay Area on Sava are quality-obsessed too and share the goal of creating a progressive, legal, and inclusive cannabis industry. As a queer-, women-, Latinx-founded company, Sava is committed to having at least 50% of the brands they carry be women-owned and at least 25% BIPOC-owned. They also seek out small, artisan makers and support the brands that built this industry.
#6 FLORE Dispensary
Flore Dispensary’s founder, Terrance Alan, has been passionate about compassionate cannabis for over 40 years. Humboldt County sun-grown cannabis is at the center of this Castro “Church of Cannabis.” It, and the multi-generational farms that grow it, are given a home at Flore Dispensary. Not only do they source from Humboldt-focused brands, but they have also established the Flore sun-grown brand that will soon boast over 100 strains native to Humboldt and the families that have been growing them for decades.
The iconic Dave Van Patten mural on the side of the building is the first stop on the “The Cannabis Trail,” so stop in and browse Flore’s extensive range of cannabis products. And don’t forget to hug the tree!
#7 PLANTSHOP Dispensary
The women of Plantshop admire and want to support women. Their selection of high-quality products made with premium ingredients can improve anxiety and mood, and help with sleep issues. Tinctures and salves can relieve muscle aches, stomach cramps, and nausea. This dispensary is always discovering new health benefits of cannabis for women.
Located in Ukiah, Plantshop offers a wide mix of cannabis products with a specific Mendocino County focus. That focus also guides the dispensary as it plays host to weekly yoga classes and concerts. You can also enjoy cannabis cocktails and more in the half-acre outdoor lounge complete with misters and more.
#8 CALI KOSHER Dispensary
In the heart of the Central Valley, Cali Kosher grows and processes all of their cannabis to meet not only Kosher requirements (as the name suggests), but also EnvirOrganic requirements. That means they are committed to the environment and the community. With a combined cannabis experience base of over 50 years, Cali Kosher strives to provide top-shelf, high-quality cannabis, whether it’s in the form of flower or concentrates.
By having a fully integrated company, Cali Kosher is able to ensure that every step of the growing and manufacturing process meets high standards of quality and that no part of the process is out of their control, allowing them to give customers a consistent experience of excellence.
#9 POSH GREEN Dispensary
Reese Benton established Posh Green Collective in the Hunters Point neighborhood in 2016. The San Francisco native joined the strong, but few minority owners in the cannabis industry. The Posh Green cannabis connoisseurs have dedicated themselves to health and wellness education in addition to supporting local farmers and greenhouse vendors to provide clients with top-shelf premium cannabis products.
If you are new to cannabis, medicating for comfort & healing, or partaking for recreation, Posh Green is here to provide you with the highest grade of cannabis in-store or by delivery.
#10 THE APOTHECARIUM Dispensaries
The Apothecarium was founded by three first cousins and two family friends in San Francisco in 2011. Known for emphasizing education and customer service for seniors, first-timers, and patients with serious medical conditions, the focus on providing in-depth, one-on-one consultations from highly trained cannabis consultants in a welcoming, non-judgmental environment, ensures that everyone who walks through The Apothecarium’s doors is having their needs met.
There are three locations in San Francisco (Castro, Marina, and Soma), one in Berkeley, and one in Capitola. On the East Coast, The Apothecarium dispensaries can be found in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.