By whatever name you call it—cannabis, marijuana, pot, or weed, it’s legal for recreational use for adults 21 years and over in all of California since Proposition 64 passed, and that includes Santa Barbara, California. The cannabis landscape is evolving in our sleepy little beach town, albeit slowly. Here are ten things we think are important to know about cannabis right now in Santa Barbara.
1. You need your Medical Marijuana Card to purchase at all dispensaries in Santa Barbara and Goleta.
It’s a bit confusing—cannabis has been legal for recreational (adult-use) in California since January 1, 2018. But if you try to stroll into a local marijuana dispensary in Santa Barbara or Goleta, you will be turned away if you don’t have your Medical Marijuana Card and original doctor’s letter.
This has to do with the slow process of Santa Barbara and other local municipalities adopting cannabis ordinances and licensing businesses. In the fall of 2018, after an arduous selection process, Santa Barbara allowed three dispensaries to obtain licenses to sell cannabis for recreational, adult-use, to those over 21. These businesses are in the process of getting their storefronts ready for business, but likely will not be open till sometime in the spring of 2019.
Until then, if you would like to start exploring cannabis and make a purchase from one of our local dispensaries, you need to bite the bullet and get a Medical Marijuana card (MMJ card). The good news is that online services (like NuggMD and PrestoDoctor) make it easier and more affordable than ever to obtain a card. There are also quite a few doctors in town who are knowledgeable about treating various conditions with cannabis, if you would like some advice about how to use cannabis medicinally.
2. You must register 24 hours in advance at collectives in Santa Barbara before purchasing.
This is another whoop-dee-doo that is unique to Santa Barbara. It’s a special regulation enacted by the city of Santa Barbara that requires you to register at your Santa Barbara dispensary of choice (The Canopy or Santa Barbara Collective) 24 hours before you make your first purchase. Sorry, no impulse cannabis buys here in Santa Barbara! 🙂
It’s a pain, but you can do it. Just swing on by the dispensary as soon as you get your medical marijuana card and original doctor’s recommendation letter. If you get anxious while waiting, head over to Pura Luna Women’s Apothecary or High Tide and pick up some CBD to quell your nerves while you are waiting to make your first cannabis purchase. CBD has many reported amazing benefits and you might be surprised how good you feel using CBD alone, so go ahead and experiment. 🙂
Return to your dispensary of choice after your 24 hours waiting period is over, and make your cannabis purchase. Once you are a member of a collective in Santa Barbara you never have to endure the 24 hour waiting period again.
NOTE: Dispensaries in Goleta do not have this restriction, and new members may purchase the same day.
3. You can drive 45 minutes to Ojai if you want to purchase without a Medical Marijuana card.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of getting your card but you are willing to drive a bit, you can head up to Ojai and make a purchase without a doctor’s recommendation if you are 21 and over from any of the three dispensaries up there. If you decide to drive to Ojai, you may want to check out our fun Self-Guided Cannabis Walking Tour of Ojai for some ideas of interesting activities and places to explore up there! 🙂
4. You can get a Medical Marijuana Card for California even if you are an out-of-state resident.
Are you coming to Santa Barbara to visit from a state that has not legalized cannabis? If you do a little pre-planning you can make a purchase from a dispensary in Santa Barbara while you are visiting. You may use an online service, like NuggMD, to obtain your California Medical Marijuana card and have it sent to your residence out of state. We recommend you do this about 2 weeks before your trip to allow plenty of time for your card and doctor’s recommendation to arrive. You must take these with you on your trip. Make sure to take the original doctor’s recommendation letter—copies will not be accepted.
The moment you arrive in to Santa Barbara, head over to The Canopy on Milpas. They are the only dispensary in Santa Barbara right now that will accept an out-of-state ID, along with your California MMJ card and original doctor’s recommendation. We suggest you go there as soon as you come to Santa Barbara because of the 24-hour waiting period the city imposes before making a purchase. You probably want to have some time to enjoy your purchases while you are in town. 🙂
Once you have registered, wait 24 hours, and return to make a purchase. We suggest going in the morning before 11am to get their 20% off discount and also because it is usually less crowded then and they will have more time to answer questions.
5. There is a dispensary in Santa Barbara that will accept an out-of-state ID card and your California medical marijuana card.
We already mentioned this above, but we will elaborate about it a little more here. Dispensaries are allowed to accept out-of-state ID’s along with a California MMJ and original doctor’s recommendation, but some choose to over-comply with the law and require a California State ID. The Canopy Health and Wellness Center on Milpas accepts out-of-state ID’s. If you want to purchase from another medical marijuana dispensary with an out-of-state ID, we recommend calling first to verify that they accept them.
6. You cannot consume cannabis on a public beach in Santa Barbara.
Cannabis is legal in California, so that means you can smoke it on the beach, right? Sounds like the perfect way to spend a day to us, but, it is not legal to consume cannabis in public, and this includes beaches, unfortunately. Even on a lovely sunny day, with the waves lapping in the background and the warm sand between your toes. Nope, still not legal.
7. You cannot consume cannabis in public or your vehicle.
As mentioned above, it’s just plain illegal to consume cannabis in public. And it’s also not legal to consume it in your vehicle, so please refrain from ripping open your new purchase as soon as you get to your car to take a toke. It’s also not legal to drive under the influence.
8. There are cannabis-friendly lodging options in Santa Barbara for visitors.
If you are looking to enjoy cannabis while on vacation in Santa Barbara, you may want to look into staying at a location that is explicitly cannabis-friendly. More and more options for cannabis-friendly lodging in Santa Barbara are popping up but for right now there is only one hotel that advertises cannabis-friendly quarters.
The Eagle Inn is an upscale hotel only two blocks from the beach. They offer a special room for cannabis enthusiasts called the Santa Barbara Casita which features a California King bed, a fireplace, patio and a 2 person spa tub. They request that you bring your medical recommendation and in return they will show you where the local dispensaries are.
You can also check out other listings in the Santa Barbara area at budandbreakfast.com.
9. Recreational cannabis shops are on their way to Santa Barbara this spring.
Santa Barbara will start seeing recreational/adult use dispensaries opening up in the Spring of 2019. This will eliminate the need to get a medical marijuana card for those who are over the age of 21.
For those who are between the ages of 18 and 21, or those who like to save a bit of money on taxes (recreational cannabis is taxed at a higher rate than medicinal), or those who want to have higher limits for growing and possessing cannabis, you’ll still want to get and keep your MMJ card status.
10. There are a number of places that sell CBD products that don’t require an MMJ card.
CBD, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid from the cannabis plant, can be found all over town in non-dispensary locations. High Tide has an amazing selection of CBD products and can help you decide what is right for you. Other locations that have CBD products include Pura Luna Apothecary and Lazy Acres.
There you have it, ten important things to know about cannabis in Santa Barbara!
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!
* Note: some of the resources in this post are affiliate links, meaning we get paid a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you use that link to make a purchase. It helps us pay the bills around here and continue to blog about cannabis in Santa Barbara. 🙂