Outside Lands Cannabis Decision Still On Hold

If it's even allowed, cannabis companies will have a limited time frame to get the necessary paperwork done before Friday's festival.

The burning question across San Francisco is whether festival goers will be able to fire up legal recreational marijuana at Outside Lands, which kicks off in just a few days.

It’s also still unclear whether Outside Lands will have onsite cannabis sales and consumption. While the Board of Supervisors passed legislation in March, the San Francisco Office of Cannabis still has to weigh in. Outside Lands could be San Francisco’s first-ever festival with legal marijuana sales, SF Weekly has learned that a final decision will not be made until mid-week, at the earliest.  

Outside Lands organizers have applied for the permit with both the California Bureau of Cannabis Control and the San Francisco Office of Cannabis. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported in late July, the not-yet-finalized regulations governing such events are in public comment period until Aug. 6. The Office of Cannabis confirms that period lasts until 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, so a decision cannot be rendered before then. In fact, the application for a permit will not even be made available until after the end of business Tuesday — for a festival that begins at Noon on Friday.

“We want the process to be transparent,” San Francisco Office of Cannabis director Marisa Rodriguez tells to SF Weekly. “We would have loved to have more space between Outside Lands and the end of this process. But we have to keep in mind that we are impacting many city partners and the community. We need to give everyone an opportunity to be heard. It’s a natural, organic process, and this is just the timing of where we landed.”

Grass Lands, which debuted at last year’s Outside Lands as an area for cannabis distributors to host events — although smoking and selling cannabis products was prohibited — is still planning for the possible contingency of sales and consumption.

“We would be rolling about 55 registers in the middle of Golden Gate Park, to give you the scale,” says Chris Violas, CEO and co-founder of Blaze, a software company that would handle point of sale and compliance if Grass Lands were awarded the permit. “This is really a ‘never been done before’ thing. This is the largest installation at a music festival that I’ve heard of for cannabis consumption. It’s pretty exciting, but due to that size you’re seeing a lot of precautions being taken.”

Those precautions will include fences surrounding Grass Lands and a separate dedicated security staff, just as Grass Lands had last year. But actual cannabis sales will involve even stricter compliance precautions; and you would only be able to buy one-fourth as much cannabis per day at Outside Lands as you can at a dispensary.

“The typical limits for a consumer in California is an ounce of flower, or dried cannabis, per day, and eight grams of concentrate; a concentrate can be anything from an edible to a vape pen to a drink,” Violas says.

Anyone who’s been to Outside Lands knows that phone signals can be weak out there, which poses a real challenge for Blaze to run cloud-based Internet transactions. Violas is prepared. 

“We’re bringing three servers onsite and running them,” he says. “As long as there’s power, we’re going to be running. And it’s going to be lightning fast.”

SF Weekly has confirmed three companies that are planning to set up at Grass Lands. Flow Kana will bring back their interactive Farm to Bong contest where competitors make bongs out of fruits and vegetables. Popular vaporizer brand Pax Labs tells us they’re also planning to exhibit onsite, as is Oakland vape, edible, and preroll brand Sublime.

“It’s an opportunity for us as a community to really make history,” Sublime CEO Alex Fang tells SF Weekly.

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