Hippie Hill lived up to its name like never before Thursday, as the largest-ever iteration of the annual 4/20 bacchanalia in Golden Gate Park pulled an estimated crowd of 15,000 at the party’s peak (last year’s 4/20 peaked at 12,000). The objective was to get as high as possible, as Hippie Hill and Sharon Meadow were transformed into a giant outdoor weed-dispensary-slash-Grateful Dead-parking-lot scene. While this year’s officially sponsored 4/20 event was city-permitted for the first time with porta-potties, chain link fences, and security checks at the gates, attendees were still allowed a complete marijuana free-for-all once inside and created fantastic messes of traffic and congestion after the smoke-out was over.

That is pure marijuana smoke blanketing the crowd in the video above, shot precisely at 4:20 p.m. on 4/20 and creating a remarkable cannabis cloud.


This year’s new restrictions banning unpermitted vendors, glass, tents, canopies, and tables were all completely ignored. Anyone who could get their items past security (how did he get this past security?) could get away with indulging, selling weed, or drinking alcohol. You could not walk two steps without hearing a vendor shouting “Edibles!”, “Ice cold Corona!” or “$2 dabs!”

Image: Joe Kukura, SFist

The only regulation that did appear to be successfully enforced was a ban on minors, though there were plenty of people there young looking enough that I think I would go to jail if I had sex with them.

Image: Joe Kukura, SFist

The vending scene was particularly brazen on the sidewalk between the hill and the meadow. As you can see from this makeshift vending booth, single-bud zip bags, huge sacks of weed, and all manner of edibles were freely sold without permits or consequences.

Image: Joe Kukura, SFist

“We understand and we anticipated that people were going to sneak things in,” SFPD’s Park Station Captain John Sanford told reporters at a press conference at the event. “This type of event where you draw ten to fifteen thousand people, it’s just way too many people to try to enforce something like that. I made the command decision that we were not going to enforce, just as long as it did not impact the public safety.”

Image: Joe Kukura, SFist

“I saw quite a bit of openly selling drugs!” KRON 4’s Maureen Kelly pointed out.

Image: Joe Kukura, SFist

“We’re not ignoring any rules, we’re trying to manage the crowd, the traffic, the attendees to make sure it’s a safe place,” SFPD public information officer Robert Rueca responded. “The event seems to appear as how we planned. There’s a perimeter set up. Everyone’s staying within the perimeter. At this time, everyone’s behaving.”

Image: Joe Kukura, SFist

The ban on smoking in Golden Gate Park was quite obviously not enforced. “We can’t go and cite potentially thousands of people given the resources we have,” Rueca said. “Our biggest priority is nothing violent occurs.”

Image: Joe Kukura, SFist

Not all vendors were allowed in. The security checks denied entry to anyone with wheeled contraptions, clothing racks, or large barbecue grills, creating a sort of exiled vendor scene at the eastern entrance of the park. “We were anticipating and prepared for spillover from the event,” said SF Rec and Parks director of public policy and affairs Sarah Madland. “The primary location we’ve seen that is at the Haight Street entrance to Golden Gate Park. With the help of the San Francisco Police Department, that is under control.”

Image: Joe Kukura, SFist

One ingenious gang of vendors was hauling in and selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts by the hundreds to the munchie-susceptible masses. These vendors chose not to be identified, and told SFist they were “raising money for school”. High school, ammirite?

Someone got a pretty sweet drone video of Hippie Hill right at 4:20 p.m. If anyone can find this video online or knows anything about the drone operator, we'd sure love to hear about it in the comments! Image: Joe Kukura, SFist

The large crowds, lack of regrettable incident, and easy-money vending opportunities must have the new 4/20 sponsors (High Times, Cookies, and a gaggle of other marijuana barons) wondering if they’ve created a new San Francisco tourism holiday the caliber of Folsom Street Fair or SF Pride. But there is certainly a risk that 4/20’s unchecked sketchy elements might lead the event to a demise like Pink Saturday or Halloween in the Castro. And for anyone trying to commute at rush hour Thursday night in Richmond or Sunset, this is now officially more like Bay to Breakers or Outside Lands where you’d rather just make plans to leave town.

Related: This Is What Hippie Hill Looks Like Right Now

Image: Joe Kukura, SFist