Cannabis gets the green light at OSL 2019

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Puff puff passing inside San Francisco’s biggest summer spectacle got much easier this year at Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, where over 210,000 attendees of the outdoor megaland could — for the first time — legally purchase and consume cannabis on-site.

For the first time, Outside Lands attendees could purchase and consume cannabis inside the festival.

For the first time, Outside Lands attendees could purchase and consume cannabis inside the festival.

South of Golden Gate Park’s Polo Field where Paul Simon, Childish Gambino, and Twenty One Pilots headlined the three-day festival weekend (Aug. 9-11), nearly 30 vendors made up the second annual Grass Lands experience.

From gummies to chocolates to THC-infused water to festival-sized pre-roll joints, Grass Lands didn’t skimp on spark.

According to SFGate.com, Grass Lands sold “seven figures” worth of cannabis, though organizers Highland Events were unable to confirm specific sales numbers or an exact revenue figure.

Second year cannabis vendor Kristi Knoblich-Palmer, co-founder of Kiva Confections, confirmed foot traffic increased since last year; the line for her artisanal edibles snaking through the crowd.

“Word’s out that there’s actual cannabis in the cannabis area of Grass Lands,” Knoblich-Palmer told Castro Courier on Day 2 of the festival. “It’s a lot busier than last year.”

(2019’s Day 2 ticket sales were reportedly the highest in the festival’s 12-year history: 90,000.)

“Cannabis companies haven’t really been on the invitation list for festivals in the past,” she said, proudly glancing over at her bustling Kiva booth. “I think music and pot go really well together; I think a lot of other people agree it’s a bit of a match made in heaven. 

“It was only a matter of time before we’d be able to be at a festival like this,” Knoblich-Palmer added.

A statue of Mary Jane inside Grass Lands.

A statue of Mary Jane inside Grass Lands.

To prevent overcrowding during peak hours, security at the entrance of Grass Lands delayed the long line of customers waiting to have IDs checked. 

Inside the sizeable hideout, tall eucalyptus trees punctuated colorful, interactive booths, and merchants knew the way to their consumers stoned and hungry hearts. One air-conditioned booth offered free donuts and back massages. Another booth offered cold water refills from a gas pump.

26-year-old Outside Lands first-timer Brian Villalobos from Anaheim, CA said Grass Lands “feels amazing.”

“You’re welcome, finally,” Villalobos said. “[I like] not being glared at for smoking weed. Everyone is just having a good time vibing.”

Nearby at the Farm to Bong Competition table, attendees carved bongs using fresh fruits and vegetables. While some creations functioned like traditional bongs, others — the cucumber shoved into a watermelon, for example — resembled alternative adult activities.

Alexis Fulcher, a 33-year-old Outside Lands veteran from Los Angeles, created her bong using ginger, a bell pepper and a lemon slice. 

“I feel like a cool kid in high school again: arts and crafts with weed,” Fulcher said, admiring her creation.

Comedian Ngaio Bealum performing on the Grass Lands Stage.

Comedian Ngaio Bealum performing on the Grass Lands Stage.

The Grass Lands Stage showcased cannabis-themed demos, conversations and music performances, including comedian Ngaio Bealum.

“We’re standing in the middle of Golden Gate Park smoking weed, but you gotta sneak off to smoke a cigarette,” said Bealum, a San Francisco native. “20 years ago you had to sneak into the woods to smoke the weed. It’s a great new approach to things.”

A marijuana activist for “20 something years,” Bealum, who had just finished a set on the Grass Lands Stage, said while the legalization of marijuana still has some challenges, the overall benefits have been fantastic. 

“Being able to carry a bag of weed in your pocket and not worry when you see cops does wonders for the hypertension,” he said, laughing.

An Outside Lands first-timer himself, what advice does he have for other newbies?

“Wear comfortable shoes!” he said. “And pace yourself. If you’re not used to smoking weed at a festival and you show up here, you might be inclined to go crazy hard at first. But it’s a 10 hour day. Stay hydrated.”

The next Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival is August 7–9, 2020. Visit sfoutsidelands.com for updates.

This article was originally published in Castro Courier, September 2019.

Tony Taylor