It’s always a good sign when you can smell the party from blocks away. The day and the weather could not have been more perfect for San Francisco’s 4th Annual S.F. Medical Cannabis Competition, The Patient’s Choice. After some rocking delays including moving the cannabis flavor festivities to a new location at the last moment, the Bacchanal of Buds went off without a hitch to the red-stain, blurred-eyed competition goers. Never feeling too crowded, there might have been a couple of thousand of people spread out through the day. Broken up into a few different areas; inside there were vendor booths, a chance to spin the wheel for free stoner gifts like a digital scale or a jeweler’s loupe with tiny flashlight, or the kewpie dolls of swag, a lighter. A huge dance floor catered to live bands playing tastefully great music, not overwhelming, almost like a soundtrack to the party while free food and drink was being served on the sides. Americans for SafeAccess, one of the cosponsors, and students for a sensible drug policy, had booths here also and were answering questions and handing out literature. It was hard not to be impressed with the spirit and enthusiasm of the students talking and educating the revelers about the movement and what’s happening now.
Moving outside to the patio was where the real party was going on. Smoking was only allowed outside, so most people after doing a quick tour of the operations, found their base camps and stayed. Like most parties, there was a VIP section where one could enjoy a free cocktail and slightly better food that the average stoner was getting for their eighteen dollar entrance fee. In the VIP area, film-makers and venture capitalists talked of the future of California post-Prop 19 over multiple joints and large glass smoking devices.
It could easily be said that there wasn’t a part of the roughly one thousand square feet of fun space that wasn’t overtaken with the promise of WEED and getting high. Green Cross kept the party going by having incredibly hospitable young men bring around balloons of vaped smoke to their guests. Samples of edibles were available and for the most part groups shared their herb with strangers, you really had to be in AA or be wearing a gas mask not to get a whiff of the second-hand fumes or catch a small buzz.
There was food and drink all around. The host, Kevin Reed’s goal was to make sure no one passed out due to hydration and not having a little something-something in the belly besides laced peanut treats. The highlight for the munch-ridden group had to be the chocolate fountain. A three-tier fountain of chocolate with crème-filled éclairs, strawberries, and other fruit to be plunged and dunk like a French king, would have brought a gigantic smile to anyone’s face, whether doped-infused or not.
But the real crowd pleaser of the day happened at 4:20, of course. A moose of a fellow pulled out the largest joint I’ve ever seen. Mind you I was a roadie for Reggae bands in the Eighties, so I know of what I speak. This rather happy fellow had a monstrous blunt about two-feet long and probably the width of a weight-lifter’s arm. The big guy got it started after a few ceremonious coughs and then passed it out through the crowd. Men and women of all nationalities and backgrounds step up to hit off that Hindenburg of a joint. The amazing thing was that the joint really did hit, it worked. It wasn’t for show. For this story, I made sure it was a working joint.
Good vibes and smiles was the uniform of the day. I spoke to a first-time attendee, Butch, a fifty-one year old real estate agent who drove up for the Competition from San Jose.
“I can’t believe something like this exists,” Butch says grinning over the tops of his glasses smoking a triangular shaped spliff. “Down in San Jose, the cops are busting us. Raiding dispensaries. Legitimate dispensaries who have all their paperwork together and everything. One of the reasons I’m here is because ASA (Americans for SafeAccess) picketed the in front of some dispensaries bringing awareness to what’s happening. They’re good people.”
As darkness came, so did more people. Being a Sunday night, as more entered, more left complaining of work and dragging their feet having to leave.
I was asked by some young dudes who mostly likely came through a tunnel or over a bridge, if I had some WEED for sale. One of them told me he didn’t have his card but wanted to score. I told him it wasn’t that kind of party. No one had WEED for sale here. It was against the rules to sell or buy, and no one did. But if you couldn’t get someone to give you a joint or a hit, it was you.
Just like last year, some growers were down from the North Country with product not only to be shown and displayed, if you knew how to ask correctly, but to celebrate another year of bringing in a harvest. A gentleman behind a green New Orleans-style party mask had the most incredible organic Sour Diesel that I’ve ever tasted. Thank you Masked Man.
Dennis Peron made an appearance to most people’s delight in the early evening. After his busts and sickness, whatever you think of the man, it was nice to see him out and about.
At around the Eight-thirty, the ballots were taken from its official perch and brought to an inner sanctum to be tabulated. To be sure of fairness, Mr. Reed had representatives from three of the City’s top dispensaries, besides his own, count the ballots for transparency.
Just like the drama of the 2004 election, there was a recount because the voting was too damn close. The whole competition thing was taken very serious and when it was announced there would be a recount, most people, except the nervous and pacing growers and collectives who had skin in the game, went back to their packs of industrial smokers.
Around Nine-thirty, vendors started to strike their booths and folks started streaming towards the exits. Being Sunday night, the South of Market club we were in had very little street traffic. That was a blessing for many who forgot to look both ways as they stumbled across the street as the party-goers tried to remember where they’ve parked their cars.
I fell in with an elite bunch. Many of us had been judges for the competition. We adjourn to another party in the Haight. The talk was about the party and the forty-two strains that were up for the competition.
About an hour into our after-hours bash, we realized we left before knowing the winning strain. As joint after joint was passed throughout the gathering, we laughed about what we saw and hear throughout the night. Actually, by that point, George Bush could have come in and told a joke and we would have cracked up.
Knowing the hoops that Kevin Reed had to jump through to get this legal pot party off the ground, everyone agreed it was a success. There were tales of High Times having lawyers present gather information to sue. People speculated whether there were undercover cops there ready to bust the fool who would sell bud. I thought about the B & T kids who wanted to buy some WEED from me. Was it a set-up?
Some said after 2012, this is how it’s going to be in California, that soon we will be legally able to smoke Pot freely in bars, outside like we did tonight. Then someone asks, “Isn’t legal already?”
We laughed some more.
I don’t know what the future holds for California and Pot. My bet is Colorado gets to Legalization before Cali. But these Pot Competitions and parties are the start. As long as so many people can come together without anyone getting hurt or harmed, maybe those scare tactics that played out the months before the election will fall on deaf ears next time. Maybe we can show the world that we can party and get home safe. While some of us activists and voters couldn’t agree on the language of Proposition 19, last Sunday night, we all came together over our collected passion. And it was nice…
And the Winner is…Boss OG Kush, Indoor Organic Hybrid. Collective/Grower: Boss