Thursday, December 8 2022

The 4/20 bacchanal has officially gone from outlaw threat to spotless tourist attraction, as SF Travel and the Chamber of Commerce staged a high-end “420-related multi-day celebration”.

If you had told me five years ago that suit-and-tie captains of industry from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce would help organize the infamous annual 4/20 shenanigans, I would have asked what you were smoking.

High holy stoner parties had a chronic reputation for choking Hippie Hill with unauthorized booze sales, drug dealing galore, a litany of drunken brawls and people leaving behind 22,000 pounds of trash. (Consider the words of the current Mayor of London Breed in 2013: “I have serious concerns about the relevance of the event. I have spent the last decade working with children, many of whom come from scarred families. by drug addiction. I am not comfortable with an event that encourages such rampant drug use by adults and minors.”

Image: Joe Kukura, SFist

But in a twist that shows the evolution of 4/20 and the legal cannabis industry, and how the licensing of the event in 2017 added much-needed structure and made it a viable tourist attraction, SF Travel Association and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce have announced a nine-day slate of 4/20 attractions and events called Evergreen San Francisco. Tied around the 4/20 Hippie Hill celebration which is back for 2022, this week-long festival claims to “celebrate the city’s various cannabis lounges and dispensaries and feature iconic attractions, foodie spots, hikes in nature, immersive art and experiences across the city.”

“The cannabis industry is as iconic to San Francisco as the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars and Fisherman’s Wharf,” SF Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Rodney Fong said in a press release. “Evergreen San Francisco is a testament to the place of cannabis in our economy and our history.”

Image: Joe Kukura, SFist

The nine-day lineup, perhaps unsurprisingly, reads like a pot-smoking festival planned by people who don’t smoke pot. There’s a miniature bluegrass festival, a roundtable at Manny’s, a history lecture at the library, a book signing, a scavenger hunt, and a Big Lebowski screening. The 4/20 Hippie Hill celebration is listed as an official event on the festival’s website, although it does not appear that the Chamber of Commerce or the SF Travel Association are sponsors of this event.

But it’s clear that 4/20 now has friends in high places. Evergreen San Francisco is sponsored by more than the Chamber of Commerce and Travel SF, it’s a joint effort with the San Francisco Cannabis Retailers Alliance, Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District (???), and San Francisco Cannabis Equity Group.

Image: Joe Kukura, SFist

This is the latest sign of how 4/20 has turned over a new leaf in the era of legal marijuana. I’ve been going to these 4/20 events for years, and the drastic change happened when they took alcohol out of the equation, which coincided with the licensing of the event. None of the Evergreen San Francisco events actually involve alcohol. Even on Hippie Hill, when you take the booze out, people get too stoned and happy to cause trouble. And the Hippie Hill 4/20 party didn’t just clean up, they also learned how to clean up the park afterwards.

Which makes 4/20 now a nice event to market to the wider tourism sector (though the hotels section of the festival needs some work). Surely there’s pent-up demand for a big 4/20 stoner blast after two years of cancellations. The renewed 2022 4/20 will likely draw visitors from the Bay Area and beyond, and while they’re all pot smokers, their money is still green.

Related: Is 4/20 indeed happening on Hippie Hill for 2022, with a special guest… Mike Tyson? [SFist]

Image: Joe Kukura, SFist

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