Just before 4/20, San Francisco passed a law legalizing marijuana sales and consumption at outdoor public events and festivals. The only problem? Permits were not ready in time for the 4/20 party, nor the How Weird Street Faire, nor even last weekend’s Pride celebrations.
But one festival could become the first to allow marijuana sales and smoking. SF Weekly has learned that Outside Lands (Aug. 9-11) is attempting to obtain a cannabis event permit for 2019. It’s unclear whether the festival is pursuing onsite cannabis sales, consumption, or both, or whether they’re also after a temporary waiver to Golden Gate Park’s anti-smoking ordinance as permitted in the cannabis event legislation.
Last year’s Outside Lands featured a cannabis-themed pop-up area — Grass Lands — where marijuana brand exhibitors let you touch and smell their products, but not buy or consume them. This year’s Grass Lands would work similarly, but it could be especially lit with the sights and smells of real grass getting bought and smoked.
One brand is already planning to bring its infused products to Outside Lands. SF Weekly received a press invite from a well-known cannabis company last week touting a Grass Lands booth that would be “welcoming festival goers with medicated treats for the first time in history.”
A second major cannabis brand confirms to SF Weekly that it, too, is in negotiations to sell products at Outside Lands, but personnel spoke under the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.
Outside Lands did not respond to requests for comment for this article, and has not made any official announcements about cannabis at this year’s festival. The San Francisco Office of Cannabis, which would award any cannabis sales or cannabis event permits, also declined to comment.
Whether festival attendees would be able to smoke marijuana in Golden Gate Park is another story. Smoking is illegal in all S.F. parks, but the new legislation allows events to apply for a temporary smoking waiver from the Recreation and Parks Department. Rec and Park did not respond to a question regarding whether Outside Lands had applied for a smoking waiver.
None of this guarantees the festival will offer cannabis sales or use; all it tells us is that Outside Lands and several cannabis brands are pursuing the option. (Last month’s Clusterfest offered a backdoor shopping entrance into the off-grounds dispensary Moe Greens, but that required leaving the festival site — and Moe Greens’ smoking lounge implemented strict time limits on how long guests could stay and smoke.)
The California law that allows marijuana sales and smoking at events requires applicants to submit their vending plans to the state at least 60 days before the event. Outside Lands would already be within that 60-day window, but the California Bureau of Cannabis Control does not comment on pending event applications or make them public.
If Outside Lands were to land legal marijuana privileges, cannabis would be tightly cordoned off like a beer garden at a street fair. Any sales or imbibing would occur far from the main entrances, likely behind some manner of fencing, and strictly limited to attendees 21 and over. Further, you could only legally consume your cannabis within those gates, even if it’s just an edible.
If Outside Lands does not get a cannabis permit, expect other big San Francisco festivals to keep chasing that chance to be the first to toke up. When asked about the cannabis event legislation after it had just passed in March, Folsom Street Events’ executive director Patrick Finger told us. “We are very excited to participate.”
Inevitably, someone is going to get that first marijuana event license, and cannabis vending booths will quickly become a normal and unremarkable thing at big S.F. festivals. But one festival coming up soon could get the first pot permit, or at least, they have an “outside” chance to do so.