California is the nation’s pot basket: More weed is grown here than in any other state – a lot more. About half the nation’s supply of marijuana originates in California.
Cannabis is also quasi-legal in the Golden State, which has a medical marijuana system with few regulations. It’s easy to get a doctor’s recommendation, and it’s even easier to find weed and buy it legally.
But the cannabis landscape varies from place to place, city to city, county to county. Here then are the five best locales in California for smoking up.
5. San Francisco
You’d think one of the most liberal cities in America would rank higher on this list. But times are growing tougher for dispensaries in the Bay Area. Still, there are few places in the country where it’s easier to smoke a joint on the street without drawing attention.
There are also more legitimate dispensaries in San Francisco than most other places in California. The city isn’t eager to expand the industry, but they haven’t showed any signs they intend to get rid of it.
This tiny city in Sonoma County wine country has no problems with MMJ. The appointed mayor was the first dispensary owner to take that office anywhere in the United States.
The mayor’s pot shops are located in the Bay Area, 50 miles south of Sebastopol. But even if you have to drive an hour to pick up your stash, this North Coast city is the ideal place to kick back and toke it.
Home of Oaksterdam University, the nation’s No. 1 school for pot entrepreneurs, Oakland has some of the best cannabis selection in the state. It’s home to the Harborside Healthcare Center, which bills itself as the world’s largest dispensary.
The feds have targeted Oakland’s marijuana community with fury – specifically, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, whose office represents Northern California. Haag is trying to shutter the Harborside center and impoverish its owner, Steve DeAngelo.
But DeAngelo has a powerful ally on his side: the City of Oakland. Local officials view his pot shop, and others in the city, as an integral part of the local economy. They have no intention of letting Haag rob Oakland of that benefit.
2. Los Angeles
Los Angeles is the home of the original dispensary boom. City officials are cracking down, forcing hundreds of illegal shops to close under a law passed by voters last year. But it’s still very easy to find legal pot here.
Indeed, L.A. is one of a very short list of cities that allow medical marijuana in Southern California. Dispensaries are banned in unincorporated Orange and Los Angeles counties, as they are in almost every surrounding city and town.
Not to mention the weather. Only San Diego has it nicer, and that’s not a good place to look for weed.
Not only is grass abundant in Berkeley, for some folks it’s free. Earlier this year, the City Council passed an ordinance that requires pot shops to provide no-cost marijuana to the poorest 2 percent of their customers.
That makes Berkeley the first place in the nation to enact this novel idea. Home to much of the counterculture movement in the 1960s, the city remains one of the most progressive places in the United States when it comes to marijuana.