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Thursday, October 28, 2021

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CulturePuffPuff: A stroll through the Grass Lands

Puff: A stroll through the Grass Lands

Behind the scenes at the first festival area to sell cannabis—and what that might mean for consumers and vendors.

PUFF While music acts like Paul Simon and Childish Gambino took to the main stages of San Francisco’s annual Outside Lands this month for a three-day music festival (see our colorful pics here), a new goal line was crossed by the cannabis industry. As of 5am on the Friday of the festival, the city and state gave the go-ahead to permit cannabis to be sold and consumed publicly in an area designated as GrassLands. 

“We’re talking going live at 11am,” said Chris Violas, co-founder CEO of Blaze, which handled distribution and point-of-sales software for Grass Lands. “We’re bringing thousands of units on-site, distributing those to the brands, getting the manifests in place, it was a lot. It was a rush,” he told SFist.

It was a rush that paid off on a Gold Rush level as the area made over a million dollars in the three days it was running. According to many people there, prices were fair and even competitive with dispensary prices. Some places even had $5 options for a couple of small pre-rolls or medicated gummies.

Getting stoned at a concert has always been a “must” for me. My whole life, I would wait until the lights go down, pull out my joints or pipe, and lit up before I missed my favorite song. All this while trying to avoid scrutiny from security, which never happened for me, but I did spend a freaked out moment at a Garbage concert when my sister used her husband’s “good stash” to roll us a joint which made me incredibly high just as I realized a cop was standing next to me. My freak out level was at 15 from 1-10, but he never even looked at me, as luck would have it.

Now with GrassLands happening, in the future, I can go to a concert or event, shop for an ideal cannabis product for the evening, and enjoy it there. 

Grass Lands: The future of cannabis at music fests?

Interestingly enough, afterwards, GrassLands was left cleaner than the areas that sold alcohol and it reported no instances of illness, overdose or violence. That is good news for future events that want to sell cannabis on site for usage.

“I think in states that have already passed adult recreational use, there will be some major changes in the next 1 to 3 years,” said Veronica Guevara who works for Flower to the People, one of the few local dispensaries given a permit to sell at Grasslands. “I’m confident in saying people outside of California are taking notice. I’m sure events like Coachella, Clusterfest, How Weird, etc, will add support to this change. Example, I can picture cannabis consumption and sales at a concert in Red Rocks in Colorado or at Lollapalooza just outside of Chicago.”

Times, they are a-changin’—and you can smell the cannabis smoke in the wind. Grasslands was technically not the first festival with on site consumption. Northern Night Music Festival was actually first, but it was not near the size of Outsidelands.

So with two successful festivals where cannabis was legally consumed, what does that mean for the future of recreational weed at concerts, events, bars and parties in the Bay Area?

“The Office of Cannabis is erring on the side of caution so we won’t have a new full set of rules most likely until 2021,” Guevara said. “Private parties are different but honestly, I really don’t know if we will be able to be able to legally have alcohol consumption and cannabis consumption at bars.”

She points out that no one can predict the entourage effect or how alcohol and cannabis will behave in everyones’ systems or how to ensure the cannabis products available at parties and events are safe and tested.

“As cool as it would be to pop in, hang out, and take a toke off someone’s joint as they pass it to you, there could be an asshole who decided to put fentanyl or spice/K2 in it and wants to mess with people….” said Guevara. “At festivals and events though, I can see San Francisco embracing positive change.”

”The more we can show the powers that be that we, the cannabis business community, are responsible and respectful, the more they’ll have our backs,” she said. “However, I really don’t think we’ll ever be able to sell dabs next to Jello shots”

So here we are watching the tides of history change as acceptance of recreational cannabis in a concert arena has made a big step forward for the movement, thus giving us another win in the battle that keeps on moving, slowly and surely, with a big ole doobie hanging from its lips.

Now it’s time to light up!

Dan Karkoska
Dan Karkoska is an independent producer, promoter, film critic, and DJ on the San Francisco scene. He also works with Maria Konner at Under the Golden Gate and is currently producing and hosting PUFF, the first queer marijuana rock-and-roll drag party every first Thursday at The Stud. He is a big stoner. Photo by Sari Staver.
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