Alameda & the History of Cannabis in the Bay Area

At Embarc Dispensary, we’re committed to being our community’s trusted source for safe and legal cannabis. We’ve made it a point to not only give back to our communities, but to set a precedent for a fair and equitable cannabis industry by reserving half of our shelfspace to diversity and inclusion.

We are proud to honor those that fought to ensure Californians have safe access to cannabis.

In fact, one of our founders was hands-on in the process to pass Prop 64, but we never would’ve gotten to that point without the advocates who dedicated themselves to the cannabis cause. So here’s a brief summary of the history of cannabis in the Bay Area – there’s a lot to learn!

The Beginnings of Cannabis Legalization


In the Bay Area, San Francisco has always been the hub for counterculture movements in the United States. In the 1960’s, the city was home to the Summer of Love, which brought the Hippy Movement into the national spotlight.

Many of these individuals advocated for cannabis reform with little to no luck, but their hard work would pave the way for cannabis legalization decades later.

In 1964, the first cannabis legalization group was formed in the U.S. when Lowell Eggemeier of San Francisco was arrested on cannabis charges. His attorney established LEMAR (LEgalize MARijuana) shortly afterwards.

1972 saw the rise and fall of Proposition 19, an attempt to decriminalize the possession and sale of cannabis. It failed then, but the passing of the Moscone Act of 1975 reduced possession of one ounce of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor. A small but significant step towards the decriminalization of cannabis in California.


The AIDS epidemic, which began in the 1980s, severly impacted the gay community in San Francisco. At this time, sick San Franciscans strived to find medical care and treatments, but suffered from social stigma.

This ultimately led to the development of compassionate cannabis care in California. Those suffering from AIDS found that using cannabis significantly reduced their symptoms and allowed them to live more comfortably.

During this time, Vietnam veteran Dennis Peron was personally impacted by AIDS, losing his partner in 1990 to the virus. Peron fought to pass Proposition P, a measure that legalized the medical use of marijuana within San Francisco city limits.

Peron later opened the first public dispensary in the United States, The San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club.


Prop 215 was successfully passed in 1996, known as the “Medical Cannabis Initiative”. This exempted patients and caregivers from criminal charges for growing, administering, or possessing cannabis for medicinal purposes in California.

Ten years later, Prop 64 was passed and recreational cannabis was legalized in California. This legislation opened the door for legal cannabis businesses, and wide scale access to medical and recreational cannabis in the state of California.

The Road to Prop 64


In California, we’re fortunate to have access to cannabis and all of its therapeutic properties since 1996, but we wouldn’t be here without the work of those that came before us.

Currently, there are 38 states that have legalized medical marijuana, and 18 states that have legalized recreational adult-use cannabis. There’s still a long road ahead to federal legalization, but because of cannabis advocates, millions of people now have access to safe and legal cannabis products.


Visit our dispensary in Alameda at 1616 Webster Street. Here you’ll find a wide selection of premium cannabis products at affordable prices. Our dispensary is set up so you can shop leisurely.

Browse our shelves and find your favorite products, or stop by our bodega-style flower bar and actually smell the flower to choose the strain that’s right for you.

Our friendly Guides will help answer your questions and assist you throughout the purchasing process. Come in today, we’re looking forward to serving you!