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Bay Area Cannasseur: SF's 4/20 holiday goes mainstream

by Sari Staver

Marijuana will be celebrated in San Francisco on April<br>20, known as the unofficial holiday, 4/20. Photo: Sari Staver
Marijuana will be celebrated in San Francisco on April
20, known as the unofficial holiday, 4/20. Photo: Sari Staver  

With the unofficial pot holiday, 4/20, just a couple of weeks away, the parties and events this year promise to be better than ever.

4/20, of course, refers to the consumption of cannabis around the time of day, and also on April 20, when it is celebrated in various cities, including San Francisco and Santa Cruz in northern California.

The gigantic bash on Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park, which typically attracts more than 10,000 people, will be more organized this year, as some Haight Street merchants got a city permit enabling them to have sponsored booths (although no cannabis will be sold), portable toilets, and trashcans. There will also be 40 security guards and an emergency medical plan in place, including an ambulance onsite.

New rules will disallow certain items at the event, including alcohol, barbecues, glass, seats, tables and chairs, large coolers, and tents, according to San Francisco Recreation and Park Department spokesman Joey Kahn.

City officials recently met in the office of Board of Supervisors President London Breed, who said in a statement, "Love it or hate it, the 4/20 festival is not going away, and it has a significant impact on our city, on our district, and on the park system. We don't want to sanction the event, but it's also irresponsible for the city to ignore it."

Last year, the city collected 11 tons (that's 22,000 pounds) of trash in Golden Gate Park alone, not including the impact on adjacent neighborhoods, according to officials.

Tentatively, said Kahn, event organizers will be fencing the area around Sharon Meadow. The event is set to open to the public from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. "Moderate" amplified sound will be allowed from noon to 5. The event is limited to people 18 and over, officials said.

While it is likely that the overwhelming majority of the city's medical marijuana dispensaries will offer some sort of special for the holiday, most had not yet announced specifics by press time.

One that did was Magnolia Wellness, 161 Adeline Street in Oakland, (near Jack London Square), which is having an outdoor farmers market, according to Executive Director Debby Goldsberry.

Previous farmers markets, held in the dispensary's adjacent parking lot, have included the usual flowers, edibles, and concentrates as well as the latest in cannabis technology, such as disposable vape pens with a guaranteed 200 doses and a recycling program that offers discounts on future purchases. A medicated ice cream was also for sale, produced by a former Magnolia employee who went on to start her own edibles firm. For specifics on this year's 4/20 event, check the dispensary's website,

In San Francisco, the Castro's Apothecarium at 2029 Market Street (across from Safeway) will have a variety of specials and gifts on the upcoming holiday. The first 100 patients to arrive (it opens at 9 a.m.) will receive free gift bags, said spokesman Eliot Dobris. Everyone making a purchase will be entered to win a gift basket and purchases over $85 will receive two free promotional items. There will be other "freebies and discounts" from visiting vendors, he said. Several drag queens will be at the dispensary chatting with customers and two Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence members will be blessing the store at exactly 4:20 pm, said Dobris.

Customers who want to shop at Magnolia or the Apothecarium must be members of the respective dispensaries, which requires a free registration for anyone with a physician's approval. Although Proposition 64 legalized the use of recreational marijuana by adults when it passed last November, the law does not go into effect until 2018.

And lastly, an evening event, at Oasis, 298 11th Street, Tuesday, April 18 will celebrate 4/20 with one of Joshua Grannell's monthly storytelling shows. The event, which begins at 7:30 p.m. and costs $10, is part of his ongoing Storytelling series and is entitled "Up in Smoke." Grannell, who's also known as drag queen Peaches Christ, and a handful of other locals will each talk about a weird, wacky, or wild experience with pot. For more information, visit


Bay Area Cannasseur runs the first Thursday of the month. To send column ideas or tips, email Sari Staver at .



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