Permit applications have been submitted to bring legal cannabis sales to Carnaval SF on May 28-29, and there’s a high likelihood that Carnaval will be the first California street fair with legal, regulated cannabis use.
Since recreational cannabis was legalized in California the morning of January 1, 2018, there have been only three outdoor events in San Francisco with legal cannabis sales. And all three were in Golden Gate Park — Outside Lands 2019, Outside Lands 2021, and the 2022 4/20 Hippie Hill celebration from two weeks ago.
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman’s first-in-the-nation 2019 public cannabis event permitting legislation has not been utilized much, because COVID-19 has canceled like 95% of all public events since that local SF cannabis event legalization went into effect.
But there may soon be the first-ever SF public event with legal, on-site cannabis sales and consumption outside Golden Gate Park. SFist has learned that one dedicated booth/area of SF Carnaval has submitted a cannabis event permit request that would allow them to sell cannabis in a designated, gated-off area, and perhaps also allow cannabis consumption in that designated area too.
Tech & Gaming Pavilion - Cannabis Garden - LGBTQ stage & more!— Carnaval San Francisco (@carnavalsf) January 28, 2022
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These permits have not yet been granted by state and local regulatory authorities. But Carnaval SF low-key teased this possibility in a January 2022 press release that proclaimed, “New to this year’s festival is the city’s first-ever community-led, permitted cannabis garden; a new tech & gaming pavilion sponsored by Alaska Airlines, and a LGBTQ dedicated stage.”
Carnaval SF is specifically named in Mandelman’s legislation as an event that would be eligible to apply for a cannabis sales or consumption event permit. That permit is not guaranteed in any given year, and again, permits have not been granted for the 2022 Carnaval SF event that is happening just 24 days from now.
But SFist can confirm that these permit requests have been submitted, and are currently being reviewed by the San Francisco Office of Cannabis and the California Department of Cannabis Control.
The dedicated cannabis booth/area is set to be called Jardin de Hierba Buena, and if approved, would only operate in a gated (21+) area on Treat Avenue near the intersection of Harrison and 17th Streets. Jardin de Hierba Buena's website describes the booth/area as “California's first Cannabis Garden at a Street Fair.”
The San Francisco Office of Cannabis confirmed to SFist that “The prospective event organizer is navigating through the temporary event processes at both the state and local levels,” but also added that their office "is unable to provide additional comments on a pending application." The California Department of Cannabis Control, whose approval would also be necessary for this cannabis event activation, did not respond to request for comment as of press time.
The California Department of Cannabis Control is known for taking their sweet time on these event applications, often granting them just days or hours before the event’s scheduled start time. These late approvals create humongous additional logistical difficulties for cannabis event producers.
For San Francisco’s first-ever permitted cannabis sales event, Outside Lands in 2019, the permit was granted less than 36 hours before the event’s start time.
Moreover, when recreational cannabis sales were slated to start on January 1, 2018, a prominent Oakland dispensary owner told SFist that they had still not received their California Department of Cannabis Control recreational permit approval as of 6:30 p.m. New Year’s Eve — less than 12 hours before their scheduled ribbon-cutting ceremony. (They received their state approval around 7:15 p.m. that night. On New Year’s Eve.)
We don't know for certain whether this Carnaval SF booth/area will get its cannabis sales or consumption area permitted. But we can say their permit request is advanced enough that state and local approval seems a likely possibility.
And these permitted SF cannabis events have cleaned up their designated areas spotlessly since the legal era dawned (before then, not so much). As such, they’ve recently built up some serious goodwill among state and local regulators.
We should note that as usual, the SF Carnaval Grand Parade is Sunday, May 29 at 9:30 a.m., beginning at 24th and Bryant Streets, then proceeding along 24th Street to Mission Street, going from there northward to 15th Street, and concluding at South Van Ness.
Images: Cheryl Guerrero via Hoodline