Santa Barbara County has become one of the leading cannabis cultivation regions in California, and visitors have a variety of new cannabis tourism offerings to explore. After the Golden State legalized adult-use cannabis in 2017, local farmers and entrepreneurs took advantage of the region’s optimal conditions for premium sun-grown cannabis in the agricultural lands to the north and south of the city. In 2019, the first two dispensaries Santa Barbara (adult-use cannabis retail shops) opened in downtown Santa Barbara, adding a new ingredient to Santa Barbara’s plant-based wellness scene.

When visiting The American Riviera®, veteran cannabis consumers and newbies alike can now shop products ranging from pre-rolls and gummies to canned beverages and tinctures. Those who might not be interested in consuming THC (a.k.a. “getting high”) can check out CBD and hemp-based product ranges that have zero psychoactive properties, such as topical lotions for pain relief, bath “bombs” and CBD capsules. This Santa Barbara County cannabis guide will help you tap into the higher-end side of California’s green rush.


By law, you must be 21 and over to purchase and consume cannabis in California. If you’re new to cannabis, pay extra attention to dosage to ensure your experience is a positive one. Take advantage of knowledgeable bud tenders’ expertise when visiting dispensaries to find the best products and methods of consumption for you. Please be courteous and abide to the same no-smoking rules applied to smoking cigarettes in public spaces and hotel rooms—that goes for vaping too. If you’re staying in a hotel, smoke-free items like cannabis drinks, edibles and tinctures are safe bets. Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal, so if you’re consuming THC products, let someone else do the driving or stick to walk able activities. Find more cannabis legal and consumption FAQs here.


THC products have psychoactive effects, whereas CBD products do not. (That’s why CBD goods are widely available nationally through all kinds of retailers, be it Sephora or CVS.) Adult-use cannabis dispensaries carry a wide range of THC products—many of which also include CBD—in addition to some pure CBD items.

Flower is the purest form of the cannabis plant used for smoking. It comes in jars as well as pre-rolled joints. Smoking and vaping are the fastest way to feel the effects of cannabis. Vape cartridges and “pens” are very simple to use and popular among first-timers. Edibles include gummies, cookies, chocolates, protein bars and olive oil. Generally, edibles can take 45 minutes to an hour before you feel anything and the effects can last for hours. Drinkables hit a bit quicker than edibles and the effects don’t last as long—drinks come in varieties like cold brewed coffee, flavored sparkling waters, hops-infused fizzy beverages, herbal teas and non-alcoholic liqueurs. Tinctures and sublingual strips can be placed under the tongue for fast absorption and tinctures can also be added to cocktails and mock tails. 

Topical ointments, lotions and transdermal patches are very popular for pain management and relieving aches and pains from muscle soreness, injuries and arthritis. They come in a variety of ratios of THC to CBD—and they won’t get you high. Infused bath bombs are another way to soothe aching muscles. These are just some of the many products you can find in our local dispensaries.


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