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How to do 4/20 right in Golden Gate Park?

April 20 falls on a Monday this year, meaning Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park—that slight rise in Sharon Meadow just past Alvord Lake—will be less crowded than the past three years, when 4/20 was a long weekend for us. and colossal crowds blocked the area on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

This could be the penultimate 4/20 in California where cannabis is banned. Since smoking marijuana is no longer a radical act and 4/20 becomes pure celebration, we present a basic guide to 4/20 etiquette.


Trying to get to Hippie Hill at 3:45 PM is the equivalent of “making it” to your best friend’s wedding, just in time to make it to the end of the vows. Bad result, friend, and it just won’t work.

This is even more important if you insist – foolishly – on driving to the park for the event. Parking becomes a Sisyphean task, a trial of Hercules, a classic clusterfuck. Remember: Muni is always more fun stoned. Take advantage.


Whatever you smoke, make sure you have enough stock. Don’t rely on buying anything in the park – while vendors will no doubt be in effect, undercover police will be too. You will almost certainly not be ticketed for smoking, but you could definitely be ticketed for illegal sales. That’s a crime you don’t need.

There are occasions like today when you realize that people you would never exchange two words with in the real world are your soul brothers and sisters. You have something in common: you enjoy cannabis. That’s a good icebreaker. Bring extra to share, pass it on.


Indeed, there were citations handed out by Park Patrol last year for selling – not selling – marijuana. About ten citations were handed out for “barbecuing, unlicensed selling and amplified sound”. Go ahead and buy T-shirts or run your burger stand – but keep in mind that it’s illegal to sell anything without a license. Park Patrol will also give you a hard time trying to set up a pop-up tent or an awning.


The police will be looking for one drug this weekend: alcohol. Last year, SFPD’s dirt bike-equipped Honda unit placed it at the tunnel at Alvord Lake, rushing through coolers and stuffing everyone with excessive amounts of glass bottles. If you must obey your thirst, bring a few cans of beer or a paper carton of wine – Bandit FTW – but don’t pretend this is a cornhole tournament in the marina. Alcohol is how fights start. Feel the love and keep it. And for the sake of Gaia, don’t leave any empties in the park.


Potheads are lazy. Potheads are nasty. Tired of being a cliché yet? Last year’s 4/20 celebration left a veritable ton of trash all over Hippie Hill. While volunteer cleanup crews from medical dispensaries like Green Cross will be cleaning up here this year, there’s no reason to act like a silly Fort Mason brother or a mindless Dolores Park tech drone. Be a good citizen. That will blow the minds of haters.

4/20 FACTS

Is it illegal to smoke cannabis in Golden Gate Park even if I have medical advice?

TRUE FACT: The city’s Parks Code prohibits smoking anything in parks, whether it’s a banana peel, your tax forms, or high-quality Humboldt. The fine is a quote from the municipality. Are you getting caught? Probably not on an average Sunday in the drum circle, much less likely on 4/20. Still, it’s good to know.

Is it illegal to smoke cannabis on Ocean Beach and the Presidio?

SUPER TRUE: Ocean Beach is located in San Francisco, but it is also owned by the United States government, which does not recognize state medical marijuana laws. Feel free to smoke and vape to your heart’s content in the dunes or near the Golden Gate Bridge, but be vigilant – and prepare for the consequences, which can indeed be steep.

4/20 is codified in state law.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNI STATE IT SO: Senate Bill 420, which authorizes the right of medicinal cannabis patients to gather to cultivate medicine — that is, to sell it to you at a pharmacy — passed state law and was signed into law by the then government in 2003 . Gray Davis, shortly before his term in Sacramento, was ended by the recall elections that year.

How did stoner culture get into the hallowed halls of government? This is a mystery for now: There is a theory that a brazen staffer of state senator Mark Leno has made cannabis law coincide with the counterculture, but no one will say.

Tired of the park? Do not go there.

There’s a whole wide world beyond the mess of people from all over the state crammed into a few blocks from the Haight Ashbury and the park. You are free to broaden your horizons – and to bring your friends too. Here are some friendly suggestions.

Visit your favorite pharmacy to take advantage of the inevitable 4/20 specials. Check out our website at www.cannabiscbdclub.com for more information as the specials of various pharmacies are announced.
You’ll find us, as well as many other like-minded pot revelers, at the Cow Palace for the HempCon Cup – if only for local legend Too $hort, Vallejo resident Baby Bash and grill master extraordinaire Paul Wall at the Saturday night concert. Tickets and info: www.hempcon.com.

At press time, there isn’t much else going on in the Bay Area on April 20 itself. Major League Baseball’s most cannabis-friendly stadium will be quiet, with the Oakland Athletics on the road in Anaheim. The Giants are in town, but mysteriously have the night off. Look for Tim Lincecum in disguise somewhere near the Sharon Arts Studio.

Bill Graham Civic Auditorium is slated to be dark (no Wiz Khalidia show this year, tear). There’s an act in town, though, and it’s a local favorite: alt-metal act Faith No More will be playing its second show of the weekend. The 4/19 show in Warfield is sold out; you may have better luck on 4/20 itself. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com.



Put down the ultimate drive, take a break from the Pidgeon Point break and kick your Birkenstocks to Porter Meadow to party like a real banana snail. In recent years, the regents of the University of California have taken steps to eradicate this massive smokeout — all without success. Not necessarily for the over 30s, but for serious discussions about Plato with your Purple Kush this is the place to be.


This is where it all started. To really make it old-fashioned, head to the site of possibly the first “hosted” 420 event in the United States. Cannabis advocates first gathered here in the late 1980s, thanks in part to the influence of journalist Steven Hager. Hager was the first journalist to interview the Waldos — the now middle-aged Marin County men who are now credited with introducing “420” into the stoner lexicon — and also gets credit for hosting the first 420 celebrations outside of Marin. County.

If you pull over here it will be a much, much quieter scene. Perhaps exactly as Gaia intended. We hear the Bolinas Ridge Trail is beautiful at sunset…

Photo credit: Jack Rikess

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