It’s no secret California is a great place to smoke marijuana. The state produces 60 percent of the nation’s pot supply, and medical cannabis laws have long been notoriously lax, so at least a few California cities should appear on any serious list of the best places for stoners.
Indeed, a study from 2014 ranked the top 10 cities for smoking marijuana – and six of them were in California. So here is a list of the best places to smoke up in the Golden State.
This Southern California city has more head shops per capita than any other city in America; one for every 8,876 residents. The city also comes in at No. 1 for cannabis festivals, including Hempcon and smaller conventions. About 1.5 percent of residents have medical marijuana cards, though the number of all MMJ patients is likely much higher when patients without cards are factored in.
Santa Ana is one of the few places in Orange County where marijuana is widely tolerated. Most other OC communities have barred dispensaries completely, but this city ranks No. 7 nationwide for MMJ shops per capita – one for every 10,981 residents. Unlike San Bernardino, though, few if any festivals set up shop in Santa Ana, likely due to a general dislike of legal cannabis throughout the county.
This “super-affluent” city, also in Orange County, makes the list because of the unusual number of head shops per capita: one for every 15,395 residents. Dispensaries are sparse, however, with only five operating legally, or one for every 43,106 residents.
It’s no surprise San Francisco makes the list, but it is surprising it ranks so low. Marijuana use is more than common throughout the city, yet it came in at 11th place for dispensaries and 20th place for head shops, one for every 47,813 residents. But police treat cannabis offenses as their lowest priority, making San Francisco a safe place to light up.
California’s state capital is relatively tolerant of head shops and marijuana dispensaries, with one dispensary for every 8,141 residents. Pro-legalization groups hold yearly events outside the capitol building, an important factor in this city’s inclusion on the list.
One might think the state’s biggest metropolitan area would rank much higher than 10th place. But Los Angeles has cracked down on illegal dispensaries over the past few years, leaving the city with just 370, or one for every 10,324 residents. Head shops are even harder to find, putting the city in 35th place for per capita stores.
It makes sense California cities would appear on the nationwide top 10 list. None of the other states came close, mostly because many of their communities lag in the number of head shops or the number of dispensaries.
It’s also in part because California’s medical marijuana rules were so loose for so long, making most residents accustomed to the idea of widespread use. The rules have tightened, but it may not matter, as there’s a good chance voters will legalize the drug for any use in the November election.