While recent California legislation provides cities with a pathway toward allowing cannabis consumption at temporary events, the city of San Francisco is still in the process of approving an ordinance to work in accordance with state law. On Jan. 29, San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman announced that city officials will soon accept applications for permits that would allow legal cannabis sales and consumption at events, pending a few final approvals. That means that events like festivals, concerts, parades and farmers markets would be able to get a permit to allow consumption.
The proposal would implement Assembly Bill 2020, statewide legislation which went into effect on Jan. 1 and gives California cities the power to pass legislation and issue cannabis permits for temporary events to allow consumption on the premises. Events must obtain both a state license and a local license in order to offer legal cannabis consumption on-site.
For now, permits would only go toward established events that have been held on a regular basis, have a local permit and have significant amounts of illegal cannabis consumption that could be abated.
“Under our ordinance, any applicant for a permit must hold an Event Organizer License issued by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. Basically, the applicant needs to already have authorization under state law to be eligible.”
Tom Temprano is a legislative aide working in the Office of Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, and speaks on his behalf. “The legislation has been introduced at the Board of Supervisors and has been assigned to a committee meeting that will hopefully occur before the end of February,” Temprano told CULTURE. “Following committee action, it will move to the full Board of Supervisors for a vote. It is worth noting that there are currently six sponsors for the legislation out of the 11 members of the Board of Supervisors.”
Local permits would be issued by the city’s Office of Cannabis. “Under our ordinance, any applicant for a permit must hold an Event Organizer License issued by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control,” Temprano added. “Basically, the applicant needs to already have authorization under state law to be eligible.”
Supervisor Vallie Brown, who is co-sponsoring the legislation, said cannabis smoking currently takes place and goes unchecked at these types of events, saying that “we can’t stop it.” Whether or not the city of San Francisco chooses to regulate it, tens of thousands of people smoke at the larger events.
Most of these events operated with free consumption more or less under the radar of authorities until recreational cannabis regulations were implemented in California. Among the events that are vying for a cannabis consumption licenses is 420 Hippie Hill—and enormous outdoor event held in Golden Gate Park dating back to the 1970s. Since tens of thousands of 420 Hippie Hill attendees smoke cannabis illegally, this is one of the events that could utilize AB-2020 and a local permit.
Under the proposal, permits could begin at $500 for events up to 500 people and up to $3,000 for events with more than 2,500 people in attendance. Other events could follow 420 Hippie Hill and apply for local consumption-friendly permits such as San Francisco Pride or massive music festival Outside Lands. More challenges remain for events like these, such as the current ban on any type of smoking inside Golden Gate Park.
“If you’re going to San Francisco,” Scott McKenzie sung in 1967, “be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.” The city hasn’t changed much over the years with its strong festival and counterculture presence.