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Is Marijuana Legal in San Francisco?

Dennis Peron Speech on Cannabis Legalization

San Francisco has been at the forefront of the movement to legalize marijuana longer than just about any place on earth.

Cannabis Legalization in California

Officially, Californians voted to legalize adult use of cannabis in November 2016. The first retail cannabis stores opened on Jan. 1, 2018.


Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational cannabis in 2015. Today, cannabis is legal in 11 states and Washington, DC, with Illinois joining the club in 2020. (Note that 42 states have legalized medical marijuana.)


With its long history of tolerance and voter support for legal marijuana, San Francisco now boasts 35 cannabis dispensaries, which is more than any other city in Northern California. San Jose, down in the South Bay, has 16 and Oakland has nine.


Green Dream Cannabis Tours can help you learn more about the role San Francisco has played to legalize marijuana, not just in California, but throughout the United States. Book a tour today to experience cannabis culture like a local.

San Francisco’s Cannabis History

Weed has been prevalent in San Francisco since the 1960s, especially during concerts and protests in Golden Gate Park. It was well known that you could stroll to the edge of Haight Ashbury next to Golden Gate Park and openly buy weed from sellers hawking “bud.”


Cannabis began to be decriminalized in San Francisco in the ’70s with the passage of several laws. Basically, police were told not to arrest people with small amounts of pot.


Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in San Francisco

Dennis Peron

One of the biggest early dealers was Dennis Peron, who had moved to San Francisco after serving in the Air Force in Vietnam. (The Vietnamese made lots of money from selling cannabis to GIs, and Peron made sure to bring back two pounds when he returned.)


Peron illegally opened the Big Top Pot Supermarket in a Victorian home in San Francisco’s Castro District in the ’70s. It was like a grocery store, with a variety of cannabis strains from throughout the world sold by weight. When the AIDS epidemic swept through San Francisco in the 1980s, Peron’s legalization efforts switched from what he considered community service to compassionate use. (Cannabis helped reduce depression and weight loss in AIDS patients.)


San Francisco legalized the medical use of cannabis in 1991, with 80% of residents voting in favor of Proposition P, becoming the first U.S. city to legalize marijuana. Five years later in 1996, California became the first state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana by a narrow 56% majority when it passed Proposition 215.


San Francisco Cannabis Tour

SF Cannabis Tours

With San Francisco as ground zero for legal marijuana, there’s no better place to take a San Francisco cannabis tour. Our tours are perfect for connoisseurs and newbies, whether you’re looking for specific products or just planning to brag to your friends back home!

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