Best customer service, period
Florin Wellness Center
Customer service at dispensaries runs the gamut. Some places seem like they are one step away from being operated out of a van; others are the paragons of everything a collective should be. The best that I’ve experienced so far is at Florin Wellness Center. As soon as I walked through the door, I was greeted happily and professionally. And once I was admitted to the sales floor, the budtender broke everything down in a organized, easy-to-understand fashion. Best of all, his No. 1 concern was how he could help me, not how much product he could sell. Bless thee, Florin Wellness budtenders. 7047 S. Land Park Drive, (916) 391-8200, www.florinwellnesscenter.com. T.B.
Running a dispensary is serious stuff. And the regular stressors of operating a business can be compounded by having to handle the riffraff that some dispensaries may attract. Many dispensary owners hire bounceresque security to combat this, and naturally a lot of these guys look like they eat nails and sleep on rocks. The security at Paradise Wellness, however, manages a serious presence while greeting folks with warmth. He is still a mountain of a man, who I would never dare cross, but his service-with-a-smile is greatly appreciated and makes guests feel welcome with every visit. 6240 Fair Oaks Boulevard, (916) 484-7185. T.B.
Best waiting-room décor
1 Love Wellness
I like 1 Love Wellness. Its location is convenient, the budtenders are knowledgeable and helpful, and there are a wide variety of meds. However, no other dispensary’s waiting room is as unique as 1 Love’s: Almost everything is normal, but against a wall is a life-size statue of a cop reaching for his gun. Whenever I visit, I can’t help staring at it in fear that, in typical bad-dream fashion, it will come to life and zero in on me for some kind of strange justice. Luckily, 1 Love Wellness—excellent collective that it is—has plenty of things to calm down my nerves. 1841 El Camino Avenue, (916) 231-5683, www.1lovewellness.org. T.B.
Best thirst quenching
All Natural Solutions
Medicinal cannabis can alleviate many symptoms, from muscle pain to anxiety. However, as with most things in life, there are tradeoffs. For instance, a common side effect of using medicinal cannabis is the dreadful dry mouth. However, some dispensaries, such as All Natural Solutions, have a plan to combat this accursed condition. Every time you come in for a purchase, they give you a free drink on the house. The choices are generally a cola, a lemon-lime soda or a bottle of water. While that may not seem like much, in a time of need nothing beats a nice, cold thirst quencher. 4731 El Camino Avenue, (916) 488-5555, www.saccannabis.com. T.B.
Best dispensary that feels like home
Some dispensaries aren’t very welcoming. But if ever there were ever a dispensary so inviting that it could be from The Andy Griffith Show, it would be Nor-Cali Creations. The place is family-owned and operated; the parents handling the managerial side of things and their two sons perform the role of budtenders. Nor-Cali’s customer service is beyond great, and it even offers patients cheat sheets on what type of cannabis is best to use for certain symptoms. But what makes it truly special is its small-town hospitality, which it showcases with each and every patient. 1827 Fulton Avenue, (916) 333-1735. T.B.
Best award-winning meds
The Green Door
In the heart of Midtown sits a tiny storefront with a green door. It doesn’t look like much, but it is what’s behind the Green Door that counts. With no less than three award-winning strains that are exclusive to the club—its sativa, Candy Jack, took second place at the 2010 High Times Medical Cannabis Cup; its Cadillac Purple won first and its G18 Full Melt took second at the 2011 competition—plus an ample supply of edibles, hashish, oil and gold dust, Green Door wins. Plus, with a clever, smart bunch of budtenders, it’s no wonder it has the good meds. 908 21st Street, (916) 446-8985, www.greendoorsac.com. B.P.
Best hash heaven
Alternative Medical Center
Serving one of the more underserved areas in Sacramento, Alternative Medical Center boasts a mesmerizing selection of all things cannabis. But if you are into hash, this is the dispensary to visit: AMC has over 30 different kinds of regular pressed hashish, not to mention hash oil, hash oil balls, hash crystals, keif, pressed keif—do you get the picture? The cannabis selection leans toward heavy Indica, but you will find all of the popular strains, along with hybrids dipped in hashish. AMC has a huge selection of edibles, tenures, salves and extracts, too, plus excellent and inexpensive clones. 8665 Folsom Boulevard, (916) 386-3588. B.P.
Best old-school dispensary
Horizon Non-Profit Collective
This OG club is situated across the street from the most stress-inducing structure in Sacramento County, the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse. The no-frills dispensary is one of the oldest in Sacramento and its experience shows: Its bud selection is AAA-rated and it showcases awesome organic hash and weed. Horizon’s super-helpful and knowledgeable staff let you take your time deciding on what you are looking for. It has a humungous selection of fresh edibles, including teas designed to give you a good night’s rest. Horizon also has powerful hashish that is labeled by the strain, not a goofy name. 3600 Power Inn Road, Suite A; (916) 455-1931. B.P.
Mary Jane’s Wellness
Tucked away on Sunrise Boulevard in Gold River is the “dollar store of dispensaries,” Mary Jane’s Wellness. Specifically designed to be as uncomplicated as possible for the customers, all grams and all strains are priced at $10! To make things easier, the choices are limited to two sativa, two indica and six hybrids. That said, Mary Jane’s has one of the biggest selections of edibles, tinctures and concentrates in the Sacramento region. High-quality hashish and every kind of smoking accessory and gear that you can think of, too, not to mention a comfortable, ADA-friendly environment with a knowledgeable and bright-eyed sales staff. 2271 Sunrise Boulevard, Suite B in Gold River; (916) 635-2837. B.P.
Best homemade brownie
You have to enter through the alley to get to this neighborhood dispensary off T Street, but once you find the front, er, back door, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the strong “top-shelf” selection at Grass’ downtown Sacramento location. Old favorites, such as AK-47, Pineapple Kush and Trainwreck, are usually in stock, as is the super-powerful OG Skywalker. Plenty of edibles, including the housemade Space Cake (baked with keif, not buds) and a manageable selection of good hashish entice. The polite, honest and well-informed staff will guide you to the kind of medication that you need for what is ailing you. Free and discreet parking is available in the back. 2014 10th Street, (916) 930-0939, www.215grass.com. B.P.
Best dispensary for female patients
A Therapeutic Alternative
A Therapeutic Alternative is a female-run dispensary in the tony McKinley Park neighborhood. Proudly operated by middle-aged women and situated in a beautiful bungalow house, which is so tastefully furnished that Martha Stewart would want to bake hash brownies there, ATA has a fine selection of various Kush always on supply. Same goes for its AK-47 and Sour Diesel, and a nice assortment of honey oil, too. The collective’s excellent staff emphasizes compassionate care and especially welcomes middle-aged moms. Not exactly the place for the hip-hop generation unless, you want someone to tell you to pull your pants up (I keed, I keed). 3015 H Street, (916) 400-3095. B.P.
Best of the best
El Camino Wellness Center
The “Taj Mahal of Sacramento Dispensaries,” El Camino Wellness Center pretty much tops all categories that medical-cannabis dispensaries are supposed to excel at. A landscaped parking lot with polite security guards guiding you into a parking spot? Check. An impressive indoor aesthetic with marble floors, kind of what one would imagine of a dispensary in Tokyo? Check. Visiting is a breeze, and the lines are organized like a bank. All of its cannabis and hashish has been lab-tested for THC and CBD levels, and it’s one of the few remaining clubs that still offers massage therapy, chiropractic services, growing 101 classes and other patient services. 2511 Connie Drive, Suite 200; (916) 473-2427; www.elcaminowellnesscenter.com. B.P.
Best medical collective
Abatin Wellness Center
Montel Williams consults at this club, which is more doctor’s office than the typical dispensary. Abatin Wellness Center is run like a medical facility, and its focus is to give compassionate care to seriously ill patients. Instead of seeing a crusty-eyed budmaster, you meet with a certified therapist who listens to what ails you—and anything else that you want to talk about. The therapist then orders your special blend medical cannabis. TV personality Williams, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, consulted with Abatin on its setup, and Los Angeles cannabis expert Michael Backes worked on site during the opening. 2100 29th Street. B.P.
Best compassionate care
The Farmers Market
For those looking for a discreet dispensary, look no further than The Farmers Market, located off Old Placerville Road by the runways of Mather Field. Operated by medical-cannabis activist Bobbie Zawkiewicz, who is the also the executive director of the Sacramento County Patients and Collectives Group, Farmers Market offers both compassionate care and good fresh medical herb. The friendly staff lets you take your time while looking through their huge edible selection, and the club has consistently excellent marijuana and hashish on the shelf. If it is clones that you are looking for, the Farmers Market has some of the healthiest that you’ve ever seen. 3791 Bradshaw Road, (916) 361-1260. B.P.
Centrally situated and near both trendy restaurants and also Sutter General Hospital, Green Solutions lives up to its name. Located in a building that should be on the Historical Register, the club is a neighborhood dispensary that opens at the unthinkable hour of 7 a.m. But if you get there before 10, you can hook up on its early-bird special, which changes daily. Green Solutions offers a wide selection of cannabis, but it is in the edibles department where it shines. Cannabis-laced chocolates, suckers, lozenges, gummy bears, granola and a dozen flavors of Nice Cream Ice Cream. Willy Wonka would be proud. 1404 28th Street, (916) 706-3568, www.gs420.com. B.P.
Best GLBT-friendly club
J Street Wellness
J Street Wellness Collective is a friendly dispensary conveniently on J Street in the heart of Sacramento’s GLBT community. The sunny waiting room has art created by patients, which rotates on Second Saturdays. The main room features a crazy-good mural that gives the club a warm and gentle vibe. J Street has some serious, well-cured Kush, including a great selection of fruit-flavored Kush. Hashish, tinctures and edibles, too. The collective usually has at least one high-CBD strain in stock, for the best pain relief, such as Harlequin. Good deals on jars of shake as well. 2321 J Street, Suite A; (916) 492-8718; www.jstreetwellness.com. B.P.