So you can’t order and legally smoke cannabis at a major US music festival—yet.
But this weekend in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, you can experience the next best thing: shopping legal cannabis and ordering ahead for when the concert is done.
This year, the 10th annual, 200,000-person, three-day music festival Outside Lands adds Grass Lands, where a dozen cannabis brands present a “curated brand experience.” Adults age 21 and older with valid identification will be able to peruse the best of contemporary cannabis wares and arrange sales to be concluded later.
There’s a funky, skunky cannabis aroma wall and a lemonade stand selling refreshing beverages mixed with aromatics. Edibles brands will be handing out no-high versions of their treats, and there will be lots of samples to look at—as well as a few dozen nearly mature cannabis plants, imported from Mendocino County.
But that’s it. If any brand tries a hand-to-fist sale, there will be trouble. And there will be no cannabis consumption (at least not any consumption that is officially condoned).
Still, the significance shouldn’t be understated. As any attendee of any music festival could tell you, from the time Bob Dylan scandalized the Newport Folk Festival by plugging in his guitar, to this year’s two “marijuana-free” weekends at Coachella, ample cannabis is found wherever music is played.
“It’s clear the culture is way ahead of the law,” said Brian Zisk, an early internet radio entrepreneur and music-industry adviser and expert.
Technically, smoking in Golden Gate Park is forbidden, but enforcement is generally complaint-driven.
“There will be people smoking weed all around it. It’s now legal—and you can’t do that?” he asked, rhetorically.
“Nobody wants to be the guy who gets busted because you didn’t play by the rules,” he said. “It’s still conservative. It is what it is.”
What to Order at Outside Lands’ Grass Lands
(Courtesy of Kiva)
Here’s a rundown of what brands will be allowed to do—including, yes, arrange a delivery of cannabis to your apartment or hotel room for after you leave the event.
This luxe delivery service hosts the “green house, effectively as close to a dispensary as you can get,” Grass Lands organizer Salwa Ibrahim said. It is here that experienced budtenders will push product, answer questions, and—when you are ready—arrange a scheduled delivery.
What to Buy: ONA.Life stands ready to help you live your best life with a vast mix of low-dose, microdose, and non-smoked products. Outside Lands buyers are going to swoon for tasty PLUS Gummies, chic Beboe pens, and effect-driven vape pens by Dosist.
The Oakland-based edibles brand, will host a “confectionaire,” a 20-by-20 foot space akin to the Museum of Ice Cream, “interactive with their brand and their product,” according to Ibrahim.
What to Buy: Kiva Terra Blueberries! They’re the rage of California at five milligrams THC per blueberry, so low you shouldn’t even feel it. (Just don’t eat the whole tin.) Available at ONA.Life, as well as SAVA delivery.
The cannabis-focused clothing brand, founded by rapper and entrepreneur Berner, hosts a lounge area called The Country Club. Cookies teamed up with Cannacraft, a major Santa Rosa-based extraction company that makes AbsoluteXtracts, Care By Design, Satori edibles, and other brands.
What to Buy: Track down Cookies and Connected Cannabis Co’s top-shelf, designer flavors across California. Delivery service SAVA also moves a boatload of CannaCraft capsules.
Jetty Extracts and Pax Labs
Jetty Extracts, which makes oil cartridges, and Pax Labs, which makes devices like the Era that need oil cartridges, will host an area where visitors can get their Pax engraved—you know, with their name or some snappy boss slogan.
The Mendocino County-based distributor, processing center, and purveyor of sun-grown cannabis is hosting a farmer’s market, with growers on hand to talk about their process and their product.
What to Buy: Flow Kana specializes in sustainable sun-grown cannabis, and ONA.Life has their high-CBD Ringo’s Gift.
(Courtesy of Flow Kana)
- Chef Coreen Carroll, co-founder and food wizard behind the Cannaisseur Series, regular pairings of top-end food and cannabis, will be offering cannabis-free versions of her regular offerings.
- True Terpenes is running a terpene wall and lemonade stand. Visitors will be able to smell cannabis-extracted terpenes—the aromatic oils that give each strain its unique smell, taste, and (to some degree) effects—some of which will be able to be mixed into cups of lemonade for visitors to enjoy.
- Leading lounge in the world Barbary Coast pops up at Grass Lands, and so does Sunday Goods, Ibrahim’s Mesh Ventures, and Highland Events.
No Easy Party to Throw
Festival financiers are loathe to increase risk by going near legal cannabis. (Courtesy of Outside Lands/Facebook)
Grass Lands at Outside Lands is a first and welcome acknowledgement of cannabis culture in music, but it’s all still very much at arms-length, compared to alcohol. The event’s organizer, Salwa Ibrahim, has been trying to get cannabis into music festivals for years.
The first time, Ibrahim offered to put a cannabis vending machine at Oakland’s newly restored Fox Theater—an Art Deco gem that’s played host to Prince, D’Angelo, and other huge acts. She invited executives and other deciders at Another Planet, the Bay Area-based promotion powerhouse that manages the venue, to come to the legal cannabis dispensary she managed at the time and check it out: the cultivation, the processing, the selling, and—yes—the vending machine.
It was a mostly productive visit. The bigwigs and the honchos, they liked what they saw. But—for a lawyer’s list of reasons—they weren’t quite sold.
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“They were just like, ‘Yeah, no,’” Ibrahim recounted recently. “‘But this is interesting. You should really come to Outside Lands.’”
So, the following year—2017, the first full year of adult-use legalization in California—Blum tacked its name onto the Outside Lands brand as a sponsor.
At the time, it was purely a marketing play. Blum couldn’t sell or hand out any cannabis (the vending machines had to stay at home in Oakland), or do much aside from plug its brand.
Still, with a reported 200,000 people streaming through the turnstiles over three days at Outside Lands, it was an opportunity for brand recognition—and potential brand loyalty—that any fledgling business would leap at.
More importantly, it laid the groundwork for this year.
Owing to the conservative nature of the bankrollers of music festivals, and how much they stand to lose if authorities decide to shut them down, it’s taken until now—the second full year of cannabis legalization in California—for a festival to agree to give cannabis companies attention even approaching that enjoyed by alcohol companies.
Even this first-ever opportunity wasn’t an easy sell. This has been a hard year for California cannabis companies, who have had to adjust to shifting state laws and adapt to new stringent testing and child-proof packaging standards this summer. “I cannot express to you how hard of a lift this has been,” Ibrahim told Leafly News this past week. “Brands are suffering this year. It’s been very hard to brands to shell out extra money for marketing.”
“But the brands that signed on, they totally got it,” she said. “They made sacrifices and cuts to be part of this. They got the vision and bought into it early.”