Your Guide to Cannabis in Wine Country

  • Cannabis
  • by JESS LANDER
  • on JULY 23, 2021
  • 950
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Courtesy of Wellfounded Botanicals
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Welcome to your ultimate guide to cannabis in Wine Country! Whether you’re new to cannabis or a frequent cannabis user doing research for a future trip to Northern California, we want you to be as informed as possible.

Our guide takes you through everything you need to know to buy, consume, and experience cannabis legally in Wine Country.

While we admit there is quite a bit of information to cover here, we’ve divided this article into sections to make it easier to use as a reference tool. Feel free to read straight through or see our outline below to skip ahead to a certain topic.

Before we dive in, we want to just point out that, like the alcohol-related activities you may enjoy in Wine Country, if you plan to use cannabis, please do so responsibly and safely (try not to skip the ‘rules’ section).

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to talk all things cannabis!

History

How it started, how cannabis became legal in California

Rules

How it works, what are the rules, what you can and can’t do

Buying Cannabis

• Types of Dispensaries – recreational versus medical
• What to expect when visiting a dispensary
• Where to purchase – Leading dispensaries in Sonoma and Napa Counties
• Delivery – how to order, delivery radius, and more

Consuming Cannabis

• What is THC vs. CBD
• Types of Products

Cannabis in Wine Country

• What to know about wine & weed
• Spas, Health & Wellness + Cannabis
• Cannabis Tours & Experiences
• Safe Cannabis Use

History

How it all started in California
Why you should care

Just call California “Cannabis Country.” Why? The state has long been at the forefront of the movement to legalize cannabis in the United States and it’s been estimated that 60 percent or more of all marijuana consumed in the U.S. comes from Northern California.

In 1972, California had the first ballot initiative in the U.S. attempting to legalize cannabis (Proposition 19). It was unsuccessful, but that didn’t stop them from trying and eventually, California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis with the passage of the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.

20 years later, they took another big step forward when California voters approved the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Proposition 64), which enables adults to legally use, grow, and transport marijuana for personal use — no medical marijuana card required (must be 21 or over).

Rules

How it works, what are the rules, what you can and can’t do

With the passage of California’s Prop. 64, adults aged 21 and older are allowed to purchase, possess, and transport, up to one ounce — the equivalent of roughly 28 grams — of dried marijuana, or up to eight grams of cannabis concentrate (oils, edibles, topicals). Pro tip: that’s a lot of cannabis!

But just because cannabis is legal, doesn’t mean there aren’t still rules. Cannabis cannot be smoked in any public place, anywhere that tobacco is prohibited (which will apply to most/all restaurants and bars), and it cannot be possessed or used within 1,000 feet of a daycare, school, or youth center while children are present, for obvious reasons.

In case you were wondering… driving under the influence of cannabis is still very much illegal — yes, you can get a marijuana DUI, and the penalties are similar to alcohol DUIs. So just be aware you can’t smoke, drink or ingest it while driving or even while riding in the passenger seat.

This one probably stings the most for visitors, but it is also illegal to transport marijuana, purchased or obtained in California, across state lines. This means that if you’re traveling from out of state, you cannot legally bring any cannabis products purchased back home, whether you’re flying or driving. So sorry, cousin Fred, the weed cookies will have to wait. If you’re visiting from outside of California, consider your time in state and how much you’ll actually use; it’s very likely that you don’t need to purchase the max amount allowed.

Buying Cannabis

How and Where?

You can legally purchase cannabis products in two ways:
1. Physical Dispensaries (recreational and medical)
2. Delivery services

Dispensaries

Types of Dispensaries

Okay, you’ve got the history and rules down, so now all you need to do is make your purchase, right? Before you do, it’s important to understand that there are two types of dispensaries in California: recreational and medical.

A recreational dispensary does not require a medical cannabis card. In order to shop at a recreational dispensary, you just need to show your ID to prove that you’re 21 years of age or older.

A medical dispensary does require a medical cannabis card and proof that you’re 18 years or older. These days, medical cards can be obtained pretty quickly and easily online (more on that below).

Now, we know what you’re thinking: If cannabis is legal in California, why aren’t all dispensaries recreational?

When it comes to Wine Country, there are more than a dozen recreational dispensaries in Sonoma County, but Napa County currently only allows medical dispensaries.

What to Expect When You Visit a Dispensary

Step 1 – Bring Your ID

We covered this point above, but let’s hit again to be safe. The most important thing to remember when going to a dispensary is to bring a valid ID (a state-issued ID card, state-issued driver’s license, or passport) to prove you’re of legal age. Dispensaries take these ID requirements seriously, so you should absolutely expect that your ID will be checked and scanned before you’re allowed entrance, even if you’re just “window shopping” or tagging along with someone that will ultimately be purchasing.

Step 2 – Bring Cash

Dispensaries only accept cash. We realize that’s a strange concept in today’s world of Venmo, Square, and other cashless payments, so why cash only? The short answer is that even though cannabis is legal in California, marijuana remains illegal under federal law. As a result, most financial institutions are not willing to provide financial services to dispensaries, such as credit card processing (see our FAQs section for more details on this).

To be safe, we recommend swinging by an ATM before you visit.

Step 3 – Shop and Ask Questions

Most dispensaries are well designed and comfortable, similar to a high-end retail shop with a variety of product options organized by category.

You will also be able to purchase any equipment needed for consumption, like rolling papers, pipes, and vape pens. Like wineries, dispensaries come in all sizes; some are large with a vast selection while others are more boutique and intentional with their product curation.

It’s best to treat the shopping experience like an art gallery, not a grab-n-go. Take your time, check out the different offerings, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions, for the products come in varying levels of potency and offer an array of effects. Pro tip: you will not be allowed to sample or consume products in a dispensary (another one of those pesky rules).

Lean on staff members — often referred to as “budtenders” (seriously, yes) — to help you make your selections. They can lay out everything you can expect to experience, suggest how much you should consume, and help you find the best match for a hike, relaxing by the pool, or just enjoying the scenery. The legalization of cannabis is still fairly new in California, so these budtenders act like pharmacists, happy to take the time to answer questions and educate newbies, so definitely take advantage of their knowledge and guidance

Step 4 – Pay

Cannabis products range vastly in price and the additional tax on cannabis purchases causes the jaws of many new cannabis consumers to drop.

So, don’t say we didn’t warn you: Be prepared to pay an additional 35 percent (on average) after state, local, and excise cannabis taxes.

Pro tip: Some dispensaries add taxes into the listed price of products, so ask the budtender if tax is included to make sure you understand the full price before you check out.

Pro tip 2: You cannot return products once you purchase, so make sure you know exactly what you want before you check out. We recommend buying in smaller quantities to start if you’re a first-time user of a particular product.

Top Wine Country Dispensaries to Visit

As we mentioned above, there are more than a dozen recreational dispensaries in Sonoma County, but Napa County only has medical dispensaries. We have included a few of our favorite dispensaries segmented by geography.

SONOMA COUNTY DISPENSARIES

(note: all Sonoma County dispensaries listed below are recreational, no medical card necessary)

SPARC – Sebastopol
Address: 6771 Sebastopol Ave, Sebastopol AND 1061 N Dutton Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Phone: 707-823-4206
Hours: 7 days, 10:00am – 6:00pm
Delivery: YES – Sonoma County, Marin County, San Francisco (Delivery Map)
Curbside Pickup: NO
Online Ordering: YES
What We Like About SPARC: They have multiple recreational dispensary locations (Sebastopol, Santa Rosa, San Francisco) and they deliver as well (Pro Tip: check the delivery radius to make sure they deliver to your location). SPARC has a super friendly and knowledgeable team on site that makes you feel comfortable the minute you step inside. Finally, they have a large product selection — something for everyone.

Insider Tip: Stay tuned for their newest dispensary location near downtown Sonoma opening Fall 2021.

365 Recreational Cannabis
Address: 2750 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa, CA, 95403
Phone: 707-999-9420
Hours: Daily 9:00AM – 9:00 PM
Delivery: NO
Curbside Pickup: YES (offered daily until 9:00 PM)
Online Ordering: YES
What We Like About 365 Recreational: We love the team! A first-time visit to a dispensary can be intimidating, but not with the fine folks at 356. They make you feel comfortable first, they listen, and then thoughtfully guide you through their vast product selection to find the products best suited to the desired experience. The Santa Rosa facility is comfortable and well organized.

Insider Tip: Make sure you ask for your 10% first-time purchase discount

Flora Terra
Address: 1825 Empire Industrial Ct Ste A, Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Phone: 707-978-5978
Hours: 9:00AM – 9:00 PM Monday – Saturday; 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM Sunday
Delivery: NO
Curbside Pickup: YES (offered daily until 7:00 PM)
Online Ordering: YES
What We Like About Flora Terra: First, we love family businesses and this one is owned by husband and wife team David and Alicia Wingard. Second, Flora Terra is Wine Country meets craft cannabis. The dispensary is beautiful and unique. Being cannabis cultivators and retailers, they have a vertically-grown indoor farm on display in their dispensary (imagine four levels of cannabis being grown inside of a dispensary, it’s cool). Finally, the Flora Team is flat-out friendly and focused on making sure you have a great experience while there.

Insider Tip: Flora Terra has a “happy hour” daily Monday through Thursday from 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM where they offer a 20% discount on most products.

Solful
Address: 785 Gravenstein Hwy S, Sebastopol, CA 95472
Phone: 707-596-9040
Hours: Daily 10:00AM – 7:00 PM
Delivery: YES – Sonoma County only (Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Rohnert Park, and Cotati)
Curbside Pickup: YES (offered daily until 7:00 PM)
Online Ordering: YES
What We Like About Solful: The team! They make you feel comfortable the minute you walk in the front door. They are friendly and extremely knowledgeable, especially for those new to cannabis. We also like the deep product selection across different cannabis categories.
Insider Tip: Solful accepts credit and debit cards if paying online, or cash or debit card if purchasing for delivery.

NAPA COUNTY DISPENSARIES

All Napa County dispensaries listed below are medical, you will need a medical card to purchase cannabis. Each company listed below offers a seamless process to obtain a card medical card through their website


Napa Cannabis Collective
Address: 860 Kaiser Road, Suite D, Napa, California 94558
Phone: 707-732-1726
Hours: Daily 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Delivery: YES – 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM – Napa Valley and Sonoma Country (check specific addresses)
Curbside Pickup: YES – Daily 12:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Online Ordering: YES
What We Like About Napa Cannabis Collective: We love local! An independent women-owned business, Napa Cannabis Collective brings a friendly and welcoming Napa vibe to each customer they serve. The NCC team knows their stuff focusing their product selection on CBD (oils and topicals) and specialty THC (edibles, oils, flower, vapor cartridges, and concentrates and extracts). They blend easy-to-understand education with super helpful recommendations.

Insider Tip: They have been known to reimburse customers for the cost of their cannabis medical card when purchases are made at the dispensary (doesn’t hurt to ask).

Abide
Address: 1963 Iroquois St, Napa, CA 94559
Phone: 707-266-1967
Hours: Daily 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Delivery: YES – 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM – Napa Valley and Sonoma Country (check specific addresses)
Curbside Pickup: YES – Daily 12:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Online Ordering: YES
What We Like About Abide: Let’s start with convenience, Abide is located in downtown Napa. They also provide an easy online process to obtain a cannabis medical card quickly. Like many cannabis dispensaries, Abide also has a very friendly and knowledgeable team willing to answer any question at the dispensary. Check out their website for a list of excellent articles on all things cannabis. Finally, we love how they support their communities, check out their Compassion Program

Insider Tip: Abide offers some of the most creative deals we have seen including a different deal for each day of the week and a surprise for your birthday.

CANNABIS DELIVERY

Like everything else in the digital age, you can also buy cannabis online and have it delivered to your door. Yep, we’re serious. Delivery companies offer on-demand delivery of cannabis products all throughout California. Here is how it works:

Step 1: Find the Right Delivery Company. There are companies that specialize in cannabis delivery and then there are dispensaries that also offer delivery services. When selecting a delivery company, make sure they deliver to your address (house, hotel or vacation rental). For example, many delivery companies will not deliver to some addresses in Napa Valley. See dispensaries section above and delivery-only companies below in this section.

Step 2: Have Cash. Delivery companies only accept cash, so be sure you have cash before placing your order.

Step 3: Place Order Online. Visit the delivery company website, select your products, and complete the check out process. Some companies like SPARC have both a dispensary and delivery service. Browse and order your products directly through the SPARC website and they will then deliver your order.

Most cannabis orders are delivered in 1-2 hours depending on your location and the time of your order. Similar to a food delivery service, if you order during the peak demand times, your order could take longer to be delivered, so plan accordingly.

Each delivery company communicates differently, but most provide delivery confirmation and updates via text message.

CANNABIS DELIVERY COMPANIES


Eaze
Online Chat: Eaze Online Chat & Support
Hours: Daily 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Online Ordering: YES
What We Like About Eaze: They are everywhere! Eaze has by far the largest cannabis delivery coverage across California, and specifically in Wine Country. Eaze has a vast product selection to choose including popular brands and a diverse selection of product types. Eaze delivers to hotels and vacation rentals making it easier for travelers to the region to experience cannabis.

Insider Tip: Make sure to ask about their first-time customer discount.

SPARC
Address: 6771 Sebastopol Ave, Sebastopol
Phone: 707-266-1967
Hours: Daily 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Delivery Radius: Sonoma County, Marin County, San Francisco (no Napa Country)
Online Ordering: YES

Farmhouse Delivery
Hours: Daily 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Delivery Radius: Sonoma County and Marin County only (no Napa Country). Note: See Delivery Regions and Minimum Purchase requirements here
Online Ordering: YES

Napa Cannabis Collective
Hours: Daily 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Delivery Radius: Napa County and Sonoma Country (check specific addresses)
Online Ordering: YES

Consuming Cannabis

Choose Your Own Adventure

The sheer amount of options for consuming cannabis can be overwhelming and intimidating, especially because each product offers a different experience and can be entirely unique in how (and when) it affects your body.

But this isn’t a bad thing. Recent innovations in the industry — fueled by wider acceptance and legalization — have resulted in seemingly unlimited possibilities for safe experimentation and use. The world, as they say, is your oyster.

Let’s start with the basics: THC vs. CBD

You are going to hear and see these two acronyms a lot, so let’s break it down. Both CBD and THC are cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant, but there’s one major difference: THC is psychoactive and CBD is not. What does that mean, exactly?

Psychoactive is a term applied to chemical substances that change a person’s mental state by affecting the way the brain and nervous system work. Alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine are all psychoactive products. So, if a cannabis product includes THC on the label, it will likely make you “feel high” depending on the amount you consume.

CBD on the other hand is NOT psychoactive, so you will NOT “feel high” when using cannabis with only CBD. CBD-only products are most commonly used for pain management and to relieve stress and anxiety, so you can put the Cheetos and other munchies away for the time being. But in all seriousness, studies have shown CBD can also help manage symptoms for a variety of medical conditions, including arthritis, anxiety, and general pain relief. The popularity of spa treatments incorporating CBD-based oils is growing rapidly.

When purchasing cannabis, the products will clearly state what cannabinoids it includes (THC or CBD, or both). You’ll find that many products are actually hybrids that contain both.

How to Consume Cannabis

Cannabis products (both CBD and THC) have evolved significantly over the past 15 years thanks to legalization. A surge of new products on the market offers consumers the option to eat, drink, rub, vape, and of course, smoke cannabis products.

Frankly, it can all be a little overwhelming. However, this is where a budtender can be really helpful. They will listen to how you want to feel (relaxed) or what you are seeking (sleep aid) and then recommend specific products. Here is a quick cheat sheet on the different cannabis product categories.

  • Flowers (classic marijuana buds smoked) – today’s flower cannabis has lots of variety. Whether you want to mellow out, perk up, or get help sleeping, there is a flower strain for every occasion.
  • Beverages (cannabis-infused drinks)– a fantastic (and low calorie) option to experience cannabis. From cannabis seltzer to cannabis hops water (it tastes like an IPA beer) to cannabis cold brew (caffeine + weed), new options are coming online every month.
  • Edibles (gummies, chocolate, mints) – we are a long way from your homemade pot brownies! Cannabis edibles are one of the most popular cannabis product categories thanks to product variety (types of edibles and amount of cannabis in each product). Our good friends at Garden Society offer artisan-crafted cannabis-infused chocolates.
  • Cartridges & Extracts (used for vaping cannabis)– these products are used with vape pens or products and are inhaled. There is no smoke and minimal to no smell, so if you are looking for a discreet cannabis option, vaping may be the answer.
  • Topicals – CBD topical oils, balms and bath bombs, used for general relaxation and pain relief, are great self-care and wellness options.

Cannabis in Wine Country

What you need to know during your visit and when you head home

Mixing Wine & Weed

There’s a good chance that if you’re visiting Wine Country, you’re going to be visiting wineries, drinking wine, and enjoying Wine Country’s famous farm-to-table cuisine. So what happens if you bring weed into the mix?

Alcohol is known to increase the effects of marijuana, resulting in a stronger high when used together. The important thing to remember is that everyone reacts differently. If you’re new to cannabis, you may want to tread lightly with how much wine you consume beforehand.

Spas, Health & Wellness + Cannabis

A few of our favorite Wine Country spas offering CBD treatments include Bardessono in Yountville (Napa Valley) and Carneros Resort and Spa in Napa.

Cannabis Tours & Experiences

Another great — and safe — introduction to the world of weed is a cannabis tour or experience. Lead by local experts, cannabis tours are a unique way to learn and experience cannabis in different contexts.

Our good friend Jared Giammona at The Sonoma Experience is one of the best around and hosts some of our favorite tours including a Wine & Cannabis tour, a Craft Beer & Cannabis tour, and a behind the scenes immersive cannabis tour.

Safe Cannabis Use

There are a few best practices for ensuring your cannabis experience is safe and enjoyable. New cannabis users should start with small amounts (let’s say 2.5 milligrams) and opt for products with mild THC levels (the budtenders at the dispensary can help you find the best products for beginners). Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid cannabis.

Pro tip: Staying hydrated will help your body process cannabis.

We already talked about how driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal, and not to be a buzzkill, but it’s also very dangerous. Like alcohol, cannabis can impair your ability to operate a motorized vehicle safely by affecting judgment, coordination, and reaction time.

Heading Home

Pro tip: It’s illegal to transport marijuana purchased or obtained in California, across state lines. This applies to flying, driving, and even taking a train or bus. So, if you are visiting from out of state, it’s a “use it or lose it” situation. The best practice is to purchase cannabis in smaller amounts if you’re visiting for a short period of time. You can always get more!

So, now you are in the know about all things cannabis in Wine Country.

Please see our Cannabis Frequently Asked Questions for additional information or drop us a line at info@winecountry.com.


Author

Jess Lander

Jess Lander is a freelance wine, food and travel writer based in Napa Valley and exploring all things California wine country. Follow her on Instagram at @willwrite4wine to get Napa and Sonoma #travelinspo.

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