Reviews

Best Bay Area dispensaries for seniors

People are in The Apothecarium for cannabis products in San Francisco.

People are in The Apothecarium for cannabis products in San Francisco. SOURCE: Santiago Mejia, The Chronicle

Finding and acquiring medical cannabis in the Bay Area can be a daunting task for atypical users like seniors. They’re not familiar with dispensary locator sites, and they often have limited mobility and are easily intimidated by the kinds of rougher neighborhoods that city officials have been shunting dispensaries into. Here The Chronicle reviews the best dispensaries in the Bay Area for seniors — places where the parking is easy, the atmosphere is inviting, and the service and products are top-notch.

SAN FRANCISCO

The Apothecarium

San Francisco (Castro)

Atmosphere: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Price: ★ ★ ★
Selection: ★ ★ ★ ★
Accessibility: ★ ★ ★ ★
Established: 2010

Senior discount: 10 percent “life experience” discount for ages 60 and up.

Stepping into Apothecarium, next to Whole Foods on bustling Market Street, is like visiting an upscale fashion boutique. This high-design dispensary contains a crystal chandelier, dark walls, marbled countertops, and a waiting area with armchairs and display cases laden with books, branded apparel and objets d’art from which to smoke or vape. As soft music plays, patients thumb through a menu (no products on display at the counter) while budtenders counsel their medical needs. Order histories are logged in a computer, to keep track on subsequent visits. Mass transit-accessible and wheelchair-friendly; no dedicated parking for disabled people. (2029 Market St.;www.apothecariumsf.com; (415) 500-2620; Parking: no)

— Carolyne Zinko

Mark Cunningham blows out vapor at Harvest in Bernal Heights.
Brian Feulner, Special To The Chronicle

Mark Cunningham blows out vapor at Harvest in Bernal Heights.

Harvest

San Francisco (Bernal Heights, Inner Richmond)

Atmosphere: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Price: ★ ★
Selection: ★ ★ ★ ★
Accessibility: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Established: 2016

Senior discount: 10% off.

This is potentially the least sketchy set of clubs in the universe. The two Harvests (one on Geary Boulevard and one off Mission) have reset the bar for interior design, with tons of natural light and an open, friendly layout new patients will love. Harvest isn’t the place for bargain hunting, but its tightly curated selection is designed to draw in the uninitiated with elegant packaging fit for Whole Foods. They have multiple brands of tinctures, plus healthy edibles, sodas, mints, gummies, teas, a great topicals selection, and even a members-only lounge for folks who can’t vape at home. (33 29th St., or 4811 Geary Blvd.; www.harvestshop.com; (415) 702-6767; Parking: street)

— David Downs

Harvest in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights celebrates its grand opening in December.
Brian Feulner, Special To The Chronicle

Harvest in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights celebrates its grand opening in December.

SPARC

San Francisco (SoMa, Haight)

Atmosphere: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Price: ★ ★ ★ ★
Selection: ★ ★ ★ ★
Accessibility: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Established: 2001

Senior discount: Yes

The interior-design-award-winning SPARC at Eighth and Market continues to be a model of safe access in the city. It’s very accessible through mass transit and there’s street parking as well as parking in back. In-store patients encounter a very clinical yet modern and relaxed environment with polished concrete flooring, reclaimed wood furniture, and a smart, friendly staff. Joining takes minutes, but unfortunately there are no chairs when waiting in the sometimes long lines to reach the counter. The popular, busy club has great deals on flowers in their Marigold line, and a really deep selection of everything else. Senior discounts are available, and they deliver through Meadow; plus they have a new spot open on Haight Street (1256 Mission St. and 473 Haight St.;www.sparcsf.org; (415) 252-7727; Parking: on- and off-street)

— David Downs

People walk by the exterior of cannabis dispensary The Green Cross in San Francisco.
Gabrielle Lurie, The Chronicle

People walk by the exterior of cannabis dispensary The Green Cross in San Francisco.

The Green Cross

San Francisco (Excelsior)

Atmosphere: ★ ★ ★ ★
Price: ★ ★ ★ ★
Selection: ★ ★ ★ ★
Accessibility: ★ ★ ★ ★
Established: 2004

Senior discount: 10 percent off in-store orders Sunday, delivery orders Monday; hospice and hospital patients every day

The Green Cross excels at keeping costs down and selection high at its often-packed retail store on Mission Street just south of Interstate 280. The shop is very accessible by Muni, and offers free off-street parking in the lot across the street during nights and weekends. The Green Cross excels at the patient focus, starting with the immaculate street-cleaning program and several outside security folks who help with traffic. Inside, the club is immaculate, but often packed, with propulsive house music bumping from the system and a green-and-black design theme accented by expensive art holdings of Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel. The budtenders are very knowledgeable and friendly, and the selection skews deep and cheap, with all eighth-ounces of flowers set at a low $46, and hundreds of options when it comes to edibles, extracts, tinctures, topicals, you name it. (4218 Mission St.; www.thegreencross.org; (415) 648-4420; Parking: on- and off-street)

— David Downs

SOUTH BAY

Elemental Wellness

San Jose (Creekland)

Atmosphere: ★ ★ ★
Price: ★ ★ ★
Selection: ★ ★ ★ ★
Accessibility: ★ ★ ★ ★
Established: 2010

Senior discount: 15 percent “wisdom discount” for ages 50 and up

Elemental Wellness, like all San Jose dispensaries, is located in an industrial district. East of Highway 101, it sits in a nondescript office-park building — clean and spacious, with high ceilings, dim lighting and polished cement floors that combine to lend a warehouse feel. Patients wait in a winding line for friendly, relaxed budtenders, who preside over counters with glass cases of flower, edibles and vaporizers on view. A nursery tucked in a corner affords patients a place to purchase clones to grow their own medicine. A pickup service is available for returning patients who preorder. (985 Timothy Drive; www.elementalwellnesscenter.com; (408) 433-3344; Parking: Parking lot with spaces reserved in front for disabled patients)

— Carolyne Zinko

Airfield Supply Co.

San Jose (Airport)

Atmosphere: ★ ★ ★ ★
Price: ★ ★ ★
Selection: ★ ★ ★ ★
Accessibility: ★ ★ ★ ★
Established: 2010

Senior discount: 10 percent for ages 65 and up

Airfield resides near Mineta San Jose International Airport, in a district with big-box stores like Costco that keep the streets busy night and day, not deserted after dark. In the lobby, patients are greeted with the smell of cannabis from the dispensary’s on-site grow, as well as the sight of a yellow Airfield logo against gray walls and a piece of an airplane wing mounted on another wall for effect. Patients are handed “boarding passes” with a departure time of 4:20 that are used to enter the dispensary, where budtenders advise patients on a healthy supply of flower, edibles and vaporizers in glass cases. (1190 Coleman Ave.; www.airfieldsupplyco.com; (408) 320-0230; Parking: Ample parking in lot, with spaces reserved for people with disabilities)

— Carolyne Zinko

EAST BAY

Berkeley Patients Group

Berkeley

Atmosphere: ★ ★ ★ ★½
Price: ★ ★ ★ ★½
Selection: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Accessibility: ★ ★ ★ ★½

Senior discount: N/A

Berkeley Patients Group has been a model dispensary for well over a decade, and in some of the darkest times for cannabis, BPG has been held up as what a model dispensary should look like. BPG gives away free medicines to the most needy each month. Its longtime relationships with some of the world’s best cultivators ensure you’ll find what you need on San Pablo Avenue. Keep an eye out for the All-Star Jack Frost, an award-winning sweet, energetic varietal. (2366 San Pablo Ave.; www.mybpg.com; (510) 540-6013; Parking: off-street and on-street)

— Jimi Devine

Ryan Talerico takes care of the plants at Harborside Health Center in Oakland.
Tim Hussin, Special To The Chronicle

Ryan Talerico takes care of the plants at Harborside Health Center in Oakland.

Harborside

Oakland/San Jose

Atmosphere: ★ ★ ★ ★½
Price: ★ ★ ★
Selection: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Accessibility: ★ ★ ★½
Established: 2006

Senior discount: 15 percent off for people 65 and over

Harborside Health Center has long been what the public thinks of when it hears “classy dispensary,” thanks in part to a lot more publicity than its peers. Nevertheless, the acclaim is well earned. The menu includes some of the bay’s finest flowers, oils and edibles. With the recent rebranding, Harborside looks to prepare for the brave new world of legal recreational cannabis, but will always have at heart the patients it’s served for more than a decade. It delivers. And be sure to check out the San Jose and forthcoming San Leandro locations.(1840 Embarcadero; www.shopharborside.com; (888) 994-2726; Parking: yes)

— Jimi Devine

Oakland Organics

Oakland

Atmosphere: ★ ★ ★½
Price: ★ ★ ★½
Selection: ★ ★ ★½
Accessibility: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Established: 2008

Senior discount: N/A

Tons of mass transit options and an equally big selection make this licensed Oakland dispensary worth checking out. The urban effort from Natural Cannabis Co., Oakland Organics has deep roots to the hill with sister locations Mendocann in Hopland (Mendocino County) and Organicann in Santa Rosa. You’ll also find the largest spread of pre-rolled joint options in Oakland for those not born with the gift of spin. Oakland Organics’ best deals center on its in-house Natural Cannabis Co. brands, which include great senior options like edibles and vape pens. (721 Broadway;www.naturalcannabis.com; (510) 444-9420; Parking: on-street)

— Jimi Devine

NORTH BAY

Organicann

Santa Rosa

Atmosphere: ★ ★ ★ ★
Price: ★ ★ ★
Selection: ★ ★ ★ ★
Accessibility: ★ ★ ★
Established: 2005

Senior discount: N/A

Next time you’re cruising Wine Country, pop in to Organicann. The Crown Jewel in the Natural Cannabis Co. empire, Organicann is the last big dispensary before you start to hit the heart of cannabis country up in the Emerald Triangle. Its location allows very personal relationships with some great cultivators; you can see the results in the harvest box collection from last fall, where folks can sample many of the different farms that are on the team these days. And for those with a green thumb, Organicann sports the biggest cannabis gardening supply section in the Bay Area. (301 E. Todd Rd.;www.naturalcannabis.com; (707) 588-8811; Parking: yes)

— Jimi Devine

Peace in Medicine

Sebastopol

Atmosphere: ★ ★ ★ ★½
Price: ★ ★ ★ ★
Selection: ★ ★ ★
Accessibility: ★ ★
Established: 2007

Senior discount: N/A

Peace in Medicine proved it could be done and done well in a place that many had thought would be unreceptive to the progress medical cannabis has made over the years. Now, owner Robert Jacob is so popular around town that he found his way on to the City Council. While you may not find as wide a selection as some of its peers, Peace in Medicine is less overwhelming, and still stocked with some great finds. Strains like Blue Magoo, Bob Marley’s favorite Lambsbread, and the always-elusive William’s Wonder keep the shelves sticky. Keep an eye out for the new sister location in Santa Rosa. The $50 ounces of loose-leaf cannabis cannot be matched. It has a great selection of vape pens, cannabis capsules, plus healthy edibles, tinctures, sprays, and even seeds for the gardening-minded. (6771 Sebastopol Ave. No. 100; www.peaceinmedicine.org; (707) 823-4206; Parking: yes)

— Jimi Devine

DELIVERY

Meadow

Online (Greater Bay Area)

Atmosphere: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Price: ★ ★ ★
Selection: ★ ★ ★
Accessibility: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Established: 2014

Senior discount: Varies

Senior access in California often hinges on delivery services. Severely ill folks may not be able to leave home, and delivery services are there to bring products to their door. Among the best in the business is Meadow, whose technology powers several independent fleets of pot providers. There’s no better atmosphere than your living room. You go online to verify your patient status with Meadow, then go through the online menu, dropping things in your basket. When you’re ready to check out, you do so, and the goods arrive at your door within the day. Meadow’s menu changes based on your location, so city residents have more than a dozen outlet menus to chose from. In suburban and rural areas, Meadow might be the only line. The technology is really slick, and the only downside is you can’t smell anything on the menu before you buy. (https://getmeadow.com)

— David Downs

Eaze

Online (Greater Bay Area)

Atmosphere: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Price: ★ ★
Selection: ★ ★
Accessibility: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Established: 2014

Senior discount: N/A

Eaze delivers medical cannabis faster than you can order a pizza. It’s a marvelous experience the first time you try it, and can really help you get medicine in a pinch. The downside of all that speed is a smaller selection and higher prices. Unlike Meadow, Eaze usually partners with one cannabis provider per service area, so Eaze’s menu is only as big as the provider it is working with, and further limited by the delivery driver’s supplies. We’ve gotten some mediocre-quality bud at too high a price from Eaze. But you still can’t beat its speed. The system works best with vape pens, edibles and pre-rolls — all standardized units with less size variance and longer shelf life than flower buds. (www.eaze.com)

— David Downs