For the first time in Outside Lands history, San Francisco allowed recreational cannabis sales and consumption during the three-day music festival, making it the first major US festival to take advantage of new local ordinances that grant temporary cannabis events. Despite the fact that permits were not issued until hours before the event started, the activation went off without a hitch, save for a few long lines. And notably, the pop-up dispensary, powered by Eaze, required no medical or police intervention the whole weekend. In fact, Grass Lands’ semi-secluded grove above the festival’s main field offered a chill respite from festival’s most crowded year yet.
The Grass Lands experience was a cross between a weed-themed Insta-museum and a cannabis expo, offering a smorgasbord of edibles (and drinkables), tinctures, pre-rolls, dabs, and flowers as well as teachable (and ‘grammable) moments. Entire product lines were up for grabs, so attendees could, say, purchase the Cannabis Cup-winning vape by Moxie, sample a dab, and chat it up with members of the team at the makeshift old-timey gas station the brand set up. This sort of interaction is rare for cannabis brands, which typically can only have direct connection with customers through dispensary events.
Unlike Beer Lands and Wine Lands across the festival, prices weren’t marked up and many of the brands went beyond the typical booth setup in an effort to educate the cannabis curious. “This is an opportunity for us to reach brand new cannabis consumers and wash away negative stigmas,” Kristi Knoblich Palmer, co-founder of Kiva Confections, said at the event.
But just because education was at the heart of Grass Lands doesn’t mean it was light on fun. Here are the brands that pulled off “heightened” pop-up dispensary experiences.
The Terpene-infused Oxygen Bar by Bloom Farms
Over in the “Farmhouse,” Bloom Farms showcased its full-spectrum extracts and educated guests on terpenes with its inventive oxygen bar infused with terpenes common in Bloom Farms’ strains. Guests could belly up to the bar to inhale the likes of the relaxing, spicy Terpinoline or the zesty, energizing Humulene and experience first hand how terpenes work with THC and CBD to produce the effects of cannabis. Bloom Farms also highlighted its charitable giving with a raffle that raised money for food banks and underscored the company’s policy of donating a meal for every purchase. Signs touted that almost two million meals have been donated thanks to Bloom Farm purchases.
The Greenhouse by Cresco
Cresco Cannabis combined wellness and crafts in their air conditioned greenhouse over the weekend, offering chair massages and all the makings for DIY flower crowns. And that wasn’t the only infused art going down. Attendees could watch live painting or take part themselves in the communal art wall.
FlowKana’s Bong-Carving Contest
Iterating on its activation last year, FlowKana had a larger space and even a stage for its popular bong carving competition. Combining its organic, California-grown ethos and a farmers market setup, FlowKana challenged attendees to carve bongs out of fresh fruit and vegetables amid signs that said, “Hey, SF, Let’s Save Cannabis from Big Agriculture.” While whimsical and playful, the activation underscores the important point that cannabis is just like any other crop and should be grown organically alongside fruits and vegetables to benefit the soil and environment.
Kiva’s Vintage Candy Shop
Kiva Confections created an art deco, “elevated Willy Wonka” candy shop to showcase its complete product line of gummies, chocolates, and mints. Guests could sample unmedicated treats and purchase from apron-wearing budtenders while being immersed in retro ice cream parlor vibes.
Loud + Clear’s Augmented Reality
While many of the brands leaned into vintage charm and classic Americana, Loud + Clear by Abx Extracts went high tech. Customers donned augmented reality headsets to read about the product line and experience psychedelic illusions, while a screen in the front gave festival-goers rainbow wings.
Despite the fact that cannabis education was a main focus for many brands and many organizers of Grass Lands were involved in the passing of AB2020, which made the weekend’s recreational sales possible, the experience was decidedly light on politics. Headcount, an organization that stages voter registration drives at concerts and festivals, offered a nod to the politics of cannabis with a small, unassuming booth that invited guests to register as cannabis voters and email representatives. As festival attendees dab among the trees and indulge in organic, sungrown THC-infused treats in an unprecedented way, it’s easy to forget that cannabis is still not federally legal and according to the ACLU, marijuana arrests account for over half of all drug arrests in the United States. The growing number of cannabis consumers represents a significant opportunity to spread this cannabis utopia across the country, if we recognize that we’ve come a long way, but there’s still a long way to go.
Overall, recreational cannabis’ first official debut at a major California festival was a success—and oh-so-San Francisco.