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Bay Area Cannasseur: Local events bloom for 4/20 celebration

by Sari Staver

People filled Dolores Park at last year's 4/20 party. Photo: Courtesy
People filled Dolores Park at last year's 4/20 party. Photo: Courtesy  

Dozens of parties, sales, and special events will be held in San Francisco on April 20, aka 4/20, the unofficial holiday to celebrate all things weed.

This year's celebration, the first since adult recreational sales have been legal, includes the usual sales at most dispensaries, as well as the infamous free parties at Golden Gate Park's Hippie Hill and Dolores Park.

[Updated: 4/20 Fest, organizers of the Dolores Park event, have called it off, stating in a news release late Thursday that they are "no longer promoting celebrations at Dolores Park on San Francisco Recreation and Park and the Department of Consumer Affairs, Cannabis Control's advice and direction."]

The Hippie Hill event, which typically attracts tens of thousands of stoners to Sharon Meadow, promises to be bigger than ever.

Event organizers said on their website that this year's party will have increased funding from sponsors, enabling them to make several improvements to ensure less damage to the park and increased safety for patrons and the surrounding neighborhood. In 2016, there were several reports of violence and theft - as well as 11 tons of garbage left behind - prompting organizers to put safeguards in place last year. For more information, visit

Over in the Castro-Mission neighborhood, another outdoor celebration takes place at Dolores Park, from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. The party is dubbed a "mini Burning Man" by organizers on their website,, and their Facebook page, [Update: This event is not longer being promoted.]

According to the website, the Dolores Park party promises to be "smaller, more conscious, and more considerate" than the Hippie Hill event.

"We are hoping for a rolling flash mob of cannabis celebration and community connection," the organizers wrote. Planned events include yoga; discussion groups; an edibles bar; live art; expert talks, and the "Stoner Olympics," which will include a joint rolling competition. Organizers also hope to have an app to get food, drinks, and other products and services delivered to Dolores Park.

Event tie-ins with art and music will also be held.

One northern California firm, Natural Cannabis Company, will announce the winners of its annual "High Art" contest on 4/20, where the top prize is $25,000. For more information, including pictures of last year's winners, visit

The gay-owned dispensary SPARC is collaborating with Jazz Dispensary to launch a limited edition 45 rpm single, "Private Stock #001," featuring Bobby Rush's funk nugget "Mary Jane" and Rusty Bryant's tried and true burner "Fire Eater" on the flip side.

In an interview with the Bay Area Reporter, SPARC's director of product, Joshua Hoffman, said 500 copies of the limited edition record have been produced and will be available at all four SPARC locations on April 20, priced at $15 or free with a $200 purchase.

Hoffman said there will be "many, many" specially priced items but declined to give any specifics, "to be sure everyone doesn't wait until that day to shop." Sale items will include flowers, cartridges, and pre rolls, he said. Check for updated information.

All locations of the Apothecarium ( will feature discounts on its entire product line, media director Eliot Dobris told the B.A.R. in an interview. Discounts will range from 5 to 50 percent based on a token you pull from a bag when you enter the dispensary. There will also be specials in its Castro boutique, at 2029 Market Street. The first 100 customers at each location will get a gift bag with a 4/20 T-shirt and a pipe, said Dobris.

The Castro location will also have a photo booth, and "lots of vendors and drag queens," including the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, LOL McFiercen, Dulce De Leche, Veruca Bathsalts, and Roxy-Cotton Candy.

Over the years, various stories have circulated about the origins of "4/20," the most popular of which says it first began in 1971 when a group of San Rafael High School students met at 4:20 p.m., just after classes, to smoke a joint. The Oxford English Dictionary added the term "4/20" recently, citing this story.

A perfect way to end your 4/20 celebration is at the Roxie Theatre, 3117 16th Street, where an underground stoner comedy, "Hippie Hill" will be screened at 9:45 p.m. Directed by Kevin Epps ("Straight Outta Hunter's Point"), the 80-minute feature story turns on a series of corny events when James Wade (aka, Big Chimney) loses some rare golden weed seeds that he was delivering to Hippie Hill. For more information and advance tickets ($12), visit

Oakland CannaCrawl
In Oakland, Oaksterdam University and local businesses are partnering together for 4/20 to celebrate the region's 20 years of robust cannabis history and heritage.

The Historic Oaksterdam CannaCrawl kicks off at 10 a.m. People can stop by the university, 1734 Telegraph Avenue, to grab a map and start the crawl. Oaksterdam will be holding an open house and tours of the campus; a panel of cannabis experts will be on hand to answer questions.

Next door at EVB Gallery, 1740 Telegraph Avenue, the Cannabis Community Foundation will have a 1 p.m. gallery opening of its cannabis-centric exhibit, "Stories from the Underground." The exhibit runs through July 31.

At 7 p.m., people can wrap up their 4/20 celebrations in style at Eli's Mile High Club, 3629 Martin Luther King Jr. Way at an after-party. There will be a cash bar and live music. (There is a separate cover charge at the door.)

Organizers said that people must be 21 and over to attend CannaCrawl events. For more information, visit

Bay Area Cannasseur usually runs the first Thursday of the month; this is a special 4/20 edition. To send column ideas or tips, email Sari Staver at


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