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(Tommy Quicksilver; Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times; Mara Stusser)

The 10 best SoCal pot shops worth seeing in person right now

As California’s legal recreational cannabis market matures and delivery services make it less necessary to venture into a bricks-and-mortar dispensary, making the pot-shop experience memorable is more important than ever. Although that’s true of most kinds of retail, there’s an added incentive for marijuana merchants who, because cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, find themselves — and their ad dollars — shunned.

“We have a hard time advertising because we keep getting shut down on Facebook and so on because we’re [in] cannabis,” says Larry Scheffler the co-chief executive of Las Vegas-based entertainment-complex-meets-mammoth-sized-dispensaries Planet 13 Las Vegas and Planet 13 Orange County (the latter of which is on our list below). “[Customers] advertise for us when they take a picture. … It’s unbelievable. That’s what’s helping us grow so fast — it’s the social media.”

Digital waves, interactive sand and more await at California’s newest — and biggest — cannabis dispensary.

So fire up the Insta’, pick your favorite selfie filter and TikTok down the block — or in some cases across the Southland — for some IRL dispensary visits that are almost as mind-altering as the products they sell. And, if you know of a super cool pot shop that’s worth an in-person visit, send up a flare. PSA: State-licensed dispensaries only, please. Not sure if your weed-slinger is legit? Type the name or street address into capotcheck.com — California’s Cannabis Unified License Search portal — and it should pop right up (note, business names sometimes differ so using street addresses is the most expeditious route — and yes, those on the list below have been verified).

If it doesn’t pop up, we don’t recommend popping in.

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(Laure Joliet)

Serra

Beverly Grove Dispensary
The first L.A. outpost of Portland, Ore.-based dispensary Serra (which is the Italian word for greenhouse, by the way), this Beverly Grove space marks another first — the first cannabis dispensary with an interior envisioned by local design firm Commune, crafters of SoCal cool whose high-end-with-a-hint-of-hippie projects include the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs and DTLA. That vibe is evident here thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows that fill the space with natural light, lots of pale oak and brass accents, cement-tile floors and potted plants. The shopping experience feels more jewelry boutique than pot shop thanks to products displayed on counters clad with Carrara marble, freestanding glass vitrines and, around the central “flower bar,” an oval-shaped counter in the middle of the shop topped with a brass mesh trellis where the cannabis flower is showcased.
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(Deli by Caliva)

Deli by Caliva

Bellflower Dispensary
The 1950s-era delicatessen theme of this dispensary is so spot on — both inside and out — budtenders here say they’ve turned away misguided meat-seekers on occasion. The delightful deli details include signage that declares “fresh cuts daily,” wire shopping baskets stacked near the door, an old-school, counter-mounted take-a-number ticket dispenser and a glass display case that instead of chops, roasts and hocks is stocked with souvenir-style merchandise that includes take-a-number-ticket-shaped keychains (all of which sport the number 420, naturally), Deli logo-emblazoned T-shirts and ball caps as well as canvas totes printed with the repeating sans serif uppercase “thank you” design familiar to anyone who has hoisted a plastic grocery store bag in the last four decades. Because it’s a vertically integrated dispensary that controls its cannabis from seed to sale (Caliva is owned by The Parent Company) the ‘50s vibe extends to some of the product packaging as well. Examples include Greens (nugs “right off the stem” notes the bag), Twists (prerolled joints), Roll Ups (preground flower) and Nickels (coin-shaped gummy edibles).
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(Chase Premone / Boutiq Venice)

Boutiq Venice

Venice Dispensary
A luxury shopping experience is hardly unexpected at this Abbot Kinney dispensary — what with the name Boutiq Venice and all — but the interior of this 900-square-foot jewel box, which opened April 16, truly takes it to the next level thanks to blue-dyed glass walls that call to mind Tiffany & Co.'s signature robin’s egg shade (a reference underscored even more when your purchases are placed in a shopping bag of the same hue) paired with glossy white fixtures and mirrored panels. The sleek, minimalist feel is heightened by cash wraps that disappear inside the cabinets when not in use and four pedestal-like “flower towers” in the street-facing windows. Each of the towers displays a dried nug of the dispensary’s private-label strains (three indicas and one hybrid) in a see-through (and smell-through) plastic box, spinning and floating in the air atop a magnetic puck. The shop’s exterior spaces are equally Insta-worthy thanks to a foliage-flanked entry in the front and an oasis-like garden space in the back, both in the same blue-and-white color palette. The latter, dubbed the electric garden, does double duty as a place for customers to queue up for entry and for educational events and vendor demonstrations.
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(Stiiizy)

Stiiizy DTLA

Downtown L.A. Dispensary
When it came to the look and feel of Stiiizy’s 6,500-square-foot downtown Los Angeles flagship, brand cofounder James Kim wanted a space he felt truly reflected cannabis culture. The outside looks like just about every other warehouse in the Arts District. But inside, it’s an expansive, high-ceilinged space overflowing with graffiti-like murals, large-scale paintings on canvas and other visual (and aural) delights, including a thumping soundtrack, a pair of social media pods near the cash wrap and works by local artists Mister Cartoon and RISK. The centerpiece of the main dispensary space — which is accessed via an LED light tunnel — is a 29-foot-tall artwork by RETNA against the back wall, which is reflected in the highly polished marble epoxy floor. Although not accessible to the public, there’s active cannabis cultivation onsite. That means it’s possible to purchase something grown, harvested, cured and packaged within a few hundred feet of the flower counter. The efforts at experiential retail have paid off: Kim says the location averages about 1,500 visits a day.
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(Mara Stusser)

Calma

West Hollywood Dispensary
There’s one big reason and a whole lot of little reasons to make the trek here. The big reason is the interior south wall of the shop, which is a million-pixel 8K-resolution video display screen (inspired by the Salesforce lobby video wall in San Francisco) that displays videos that change to fit the mood. Midday visitors may find a frenetic high-speed road race through the Alps, those popping in when the temperature is cool might encounter a roaring fireplace. The little reasons include the white marble display cases, the pastel shades of pink, blue and green that accent the vitrines and fixtures, and the bright natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows. The result is a space that feels nurturing, vibrant and welcoming — three words not often used in conjunction with a place to score weed. Adding to that vibe is a mostlyfemale staff and cannabis products (not just flower but concentrates, vape pens and prerolled joints) that are displayed open and unboxed (though still behind glass as stipulated by law). Shelves on the back wall of the dispensary are lined with clear plastic bubbles, each of which contains a live cannabis seedling raised by Long Beach-based Clone Guy and available for purchase.
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(Tommy Quicksilver (photo) Zoe Rose Schwartz, Gabe Gault and Dezcjon Lathrop (artwork))

The Artist Tree

West Hollywood Dispensary
If a dispensary and an art gallery had a love child it would look a lot like the Artist Tree, which has a rotating display of artwork on the walls and all manner of cannabis goods on the shelves and in cases throughout the store. It isn’t just for show either; the art is for sale, with 100% of the proceeds going to the artists. (Apparently it’s a popular way for artists to get exposure — the submissions waitlist runs about a hundred artists deep.) Art adorns the walls at all three locations (in Beverly Grove at 8311 Beverly Blvd. — formerly the Green Easy — and another in Koreatown at 520 S. Western Ave.), but only the WeHo flagship has the added visual delight of a “cultivation cube,” a 10-by-15-foot glass terrarium in the center of the space that’s filled with cannabis seedlings. Some of the leafy greens are for educational purposes (a guide is available to walk the canna-curious through the growing process), while some are baby pot plant clones waiting to be sold to their forever homes. The dispensary also sells cannabis seed and a modest assortment of weed-centric gardening supplies, including fertilizer and watering cans.
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(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

The Pottery LA

Mid-City Dispensary
The Pottery is worth an in-person visit because the 2,800-square-foot 3-year-old Mid-City space is the OG of the elevated dispensary shopping experience. Shortly after opening in 2018, managing partner Nick Danias told The Times the aesthetic of the space was aimed at making the “Palisades mom” crowd feel more at ease in the dispensary environment, and those touches are evident in the exposed wooden ceilings, blond wood and marble-topped fixtures. The boutique feel is heightened by the luxe-level paraphernalia such as Higher Standards smoking accessories and wearable merchandise — including hats and sweatshirts — printed with the slogan “plants over pills.”
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(The High Note )

The High Note

El Sereno Dispensary
The wood clapboard facades of the two High Note dispensaries — this East L.A. flagship just off the 710 freeway and an outpost in Culver City — recall an earlier era. That vibe is heightened in the tiny, wood-paneled waiting room that contains a check-in desk, a chair, a potted plant and a bookcase stacked with a dozen or so hardbound volumes. The bookcase is key here because it’s actually a cleverly disguised door that swings open to reveal a Prohibition-era, speakeasy-themed dispensary that nods to cannabis’ illicit history. Touches include a pair of overstuffed chairs, a turntable (the album cover to Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” is propped next to a potted fern nearby) and suspender-wearing budtenders. Beside for a wide range of flowers, concentrates, edibles and tinctures by other manufacturers, the High Note dedicates ample shelf space to in-house brands Amigo Cannabis, Coalition and Ervana, the last of which works with the nonprofit One Tree Planted to plant a tree for every ounce it sells.
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(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Planet 13 Orange County

Santa Ana Dispensary
Located not far from Disneyland (6.5 miles as the crow flies) and Knott’s Berry Farm (10.35 miles), this SoCal outpost of Las Vegas-based dispensary-meets-theme-park mashup Planet 13 has a 16,500-square-foot sales floor and 50 cash registers, making it one of the largest — if not the largest (we haven’t measured them all to proclaim this with absolute certainty) — dispensary in the state. What makes it worth visiting are all the over-the-top visuals, including a 16-foot-tall octopus installation, an interactive beach where visitors’ footprints in the digital sand are washed away by computer-generated waves, an 80-foot-long waterfall wall and a groovy VW surfer bus that fills with faux smoke. But the July 1 opening was just the beginning according to co-chief executive Scheffler, who says plans include adding an onsite consumption lounge with splash pools so customers can wade in ankle-deep water while blazing a joint.
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(Josai “Yoshi” Rodriguez / Cookies)

Cookies Santa Ana

Santa Ana Dispensary
The nearly 20-year-old Cookies cannabis and clothing brand, founded by rapper-entrepreneur Gilbert Milam Jr. (better known as Berner) and cannabis cultivator-breeder Jai Chang, has no shortage of its signature blue-hued bricks-and-mortar dispensaries across California, including L.A.-area outposts in Maywood, Woodland Hills and on Melrose Avenue. But its most recent Golden State outpost — No. 16 for anyone keeping track — is noteworthy for two reasons. First, it marks Cookies’ first foray into Orange County, and second, it’s the biggest of the bunch at more than 11,000 square feet. Billed as Cookies’ first-ever superstore, details include a blue-and-white logo suspended from the ceiling; circular, two-tiered seating in the center of the space that doubles as a DJ booth; and a shop next door that sells Cookies-branded apparel (including Orange County-themed hoodies and T-shirts) with additional space that is envisioned to include an onsite grow. Product-wise, the size of the space allows each of the Cookies house brands (Lemonnade, Collins Ave, Grandiflora and Minntz, to name just a few) to have its own dedicated shopping area.
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