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SF's annual 420 festival on 'Hippie Hill' is cancelled

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The organizers of San Francisco’s annual “Hippie Hill” cannabis festival on April 20 announced Monday that they will not be hosting the event this year, according to an announcement on the group’s website.

The organizers said citywide budget cuts and a lack of sponsorships meant they did not have enough resources to host this year’s event. The SF Recreation and Park Department confirmed the cancellation in a news release Tuesday morning. 

“The cancellation of this year’s event is the result of two key factors: economic challenges within the cannabis industry, making sponsorships hard to secure, and City budget cuts impacting Rec and Park’s ability to cover staffing for the event,” the department said in the news release.

The city is asking cannabis fans not to congregate in the park during this year’s 420 holiday, which falls on a Saturday. The park will instead host a kickball and volleyball tournament organized by Volo Sports, a company that manages adult sports leagues in nearly a dozen cities, including SF, according to Tuesday’s news release.

“There will be another event going on in Robin Williams meadow. … We will have signage letting people know that 420 isn’t happening this year,” department spokesperson Daniel Montes said in an email to SFGATE.

For decades, thousands of cannabis fans have gathered at “Hippie Hill” in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for unofficial celebrations of 420, the annual cannabis holiday celebrated on April 20. In 2017, the gathering became a city-sanctioned event with security, concessions and fencing.

Prior to official organization, the event had been criticized for being unruly and even dangerous at times. There were reports of frequent fights, alleged robberies and violence toward park staff. Trash had also become an issue. 

It’s unclear what will happen if cannabis fans continue to celebrate at Golden Gate Park for this year’s 420 holiday. Montes did not confirm if the city will provide security and crowd control at the park on April 20.

The city’s news release directed the public to SF Weed Week events, a new multiday cannabis festival modeled on the city’s famous beer week, according to organizer David Downs, a senior editor at Downs said he expects thousands of people to attend their 420 party following the cancellation of the Hippie Hill celebration.

California’s cannabis industry has faced years of economic problems with widespread company failures, falling sales and reduced tax revenue. Downs said these economic problems made it hard for organizers to get the necessary sponsorships to throw the event at Golden Gate Park.

“It’s expensive to do things in the city right now and everyone knows the cannabis industry is pinching their pennies,” Downs said.



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