San Francisco has been considered the epicenter of marijuana culture in California for decades.
The Haight-Ashbury district was home to the hippie movement of the 1960s and counted famous stoners like the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin among its residents. When the Castro was savaged by the AIDS epidemic during the 1980s and 1990s, political activists Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary (née Mary Jane Rathbun) advocated for the LGBTQ community and pioneered the medical marijuana revolution.
Today, with the passing of California's Proposition 64 in 2016 and the legalization of recreational cannabis, anyone 21 and older can consume in this legendary city.
What to Know About San Francisco
Given San Francisco's storied history with marijuana, 4/20 is an extra-special celebration. While the holiday might seem like a free-for-all, public consumption is still a ticketable offense in California. In other words, it's illegal to consume cannabis in any form in San Francisco parks, hotels, sidewalks, and other public spaces. While marijuana is legal for use in private residences, landlords have a right to prohibit consumption on their properties. Review your lease agreement or check with your short-term rental host before lighting up.
While the rules on consumption are strictly enforced, social stoners needn't fear. San Francisco is home to a number of legal cannabis lounges that provide a place to buy weed and smoke it, too. Barbary Coast and the Bloom Room have swanky consumption lounges that feel more like cushy hotel lobbies than traditional dispensaries.
To purchase marijuana in San Francisco, you'll need a government-issued ID, (i.e. a driver's license or passport) that proves you are 21 or older. Recreational users can buy and carry up to 1 ounce of flower, or 28.35 grams and 8 grams of concentrate, while adults 18 and older with a Medical Marijuana ID card can purchase up to 8 ounces, or 227 grams, of weed. If you're traveling from out of state, only buy what you can consume during your stay in San Francisco. It's illegal to transport weed across state lines, even if marijuana is legal in the state you're traveling to — that includes Nevada and Oregon, California's neighbors that are both adult-use states.
From the Embarcadero to Golden Gate Park and beyond, San Francisco is a gold mine for stoners looking for a place to smoke and celebrate their favorite herb.
Things to do in San Francisco on 4/20
As the birthplace of legal weed, San Francisco will be in full-on celebration mode on 4/20. If you're hoping to toke with thousands of fellow stoners on Hippie Hill, or if you'd rather cruise around in a limo and visit the best dispensaries in the city, there's something for everyone to do this 4/20 in San Francisco.
4/20 at Hippie Hill
Since the 1970s, thousands of stoners have gathered on Hippie Hill for an annual celebration of the cannabis plant. The free event brings marijuana enthusiasts from across the country to enjoy good vibes, live music, food trucks, and, of course, a massive collective puff at 4:20 p.m. sharp.
This year, 4/20 at Hippie Hill is city-permitted, which means the sale of cannabis inside the event will be prohibited. Be sure to stock up before you arrive at one of the many dispensaries in San Francisco, and leave your glass at home. Keep in mind: it's technically still against the law to smoke in the park (for now).
- Golden Gate Park (Robin Williams Meadow), 320 Bowling Green Dr.
- April 20, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Price: Free
Cannabis-Infused City Cruise
Whether you're a local or a tourist, a guided 420 tour of San Francisco is a great way to experience the city's rich cannabis lifestyle. The Cannabis-Infused City Cruise invites you to board a luxury limo with your closest buds and embark on a tour of San Francisco's famous sites and stoner-friendly attractions. The tour will stop at two cannabis retail shops and lounges where you'll enjoy deep discounts, a personal shopper, and access to a VIP reserved booth. To celebrate 4/20, Emerald Farm Cannabis Tours has added extra tours to its schedule the week leading up to the holiday.
- Emerald Farm Cannabis Tours, 1 Market St., Embarcadero
- April 20, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Price: $149; Private Tour (up to 8 people): $799
San Francisco Stoner Comedy Festival
This holiday weekend, top comedians from North Beach's Cobb's Comedy Club, and those who appeared on Viceland, NBC, and ABC share their best stoner jokes and stories all on one stage at the inaugural San Francisco Stoner Comedy Festival. In addition to an evening of gut-busting comedy, California Love Bud will have complimentary prerolls, vape pens, and cannabidiol (CBD) oils on hand to enhance your 4/20 celebration. There is a two-drink minimum, which is something to keep in mind if you plan to smoke out before the show.
- Neck of the Woods, 406 Clement St
- April 19: 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.; April 20th: 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
- Price: $15
Lagunitas Tap Room
If you find yourself around Sonoma County on 4/20; Lagunitas, the most 420-friendly brewing company around, is offering some chill festivities for the holiday at its Petaluma Tap Room in 2019. In addition to a free tasting of Lagunitas' Waldos Special Ale, a seasonal tribute brew to the guys who started 420, the Tap Room will be offering schwag giveaways, as well as Point Reys Blue and Waldos cheese pairings on the menu throughout the day. Lagunitas is also providing a “Waldos' 4/20 Spotify playlist” to help patrons keep the good vibes going throughout their 4/20 celebrations.
- 1280 N. McDowell Boulevard, Petaluma
- April 20, 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Open to the public
Tips from a San Francisco Local
Victor Pinho, a San Francisco local and the founder of Emerald Farm Tours, has participated in his fair share of 4/20 celebrations in the Bay Area. “Everyone who comes into San Francisco for 4/20 is definitely going to want to take part in everything that happens on Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park,” said Pinho. Like most of coastal California, chilly mornings can easily turn into sunny afternoons, so it's important to prepare for all weather.
“April in San Francisco can be hot enough that you need to bring water and sunscreen to the park,” Pinho added. Pinho also recommends going slow and taking it easy when it comes to consuming during your all-day weed extravaganza. “Let's put it this way; you want to make it to 4:20,” he joked.
Another piece of advice: don't drive. “If you have a car, leave it at home,” said Pinho. Parking around Golden Gate Park is extremely limited and will be even trickier on 4/20. For a stress-free experience, Victor recommends taking public transportation, getting a ride, or walking to your 4/20 celebrations.