420 Smoke-Out Is Officially Canceled in San Francisco Due to Coronavirus
The mayor told everyone to stay away from the Bay Area for the annual April 20th cannabis celebration or they risk getting arrested — and not for smoking weed.
Published on April 15, 2020

San Francisco’s world-famous 4/20 smoke-out on Hippie Hill is officially canceled, Mayor London Breed said this week. 

“We will not tolerate anyone coming to San Francisco for 4/20 this year,” Breed said during a press conference on Monday, the LA Times reported. “We will not allow this unsanctioned event to occur this year, especially in the height of a pandemic.”

Instead, she suggested that Bay Area tokers could get lit in the comfort and safety of their own homes — just as they have for the past month. “Order food. Watch Netflix. Stay home and stay safe,” she wrote on Facebook.

The annual 4/20 celebration at Golden Gate Park’s Hippie Hill has been a marijuana mainstay since the 1970s. In fact, it’s one of the first, if not the first, place where stoners gathered to practice some collective disobedience by blazing in public on April 20th at precisely 4:20 pm. In 2019, at least 19,000 people attended the event. 

But the coronavirus that’s swept the planet for several months takes no prisoners. San Francisco was the first US city to declare a “shelter-in-place” or “stay-at-home” order. Such orders require everyone to stay home by law until the emergency ends. Residents may only leave their homes to purchase “essential” items like food, medicine, or weed — or to travel to and from work for an essential job. 

Violating shelter-in-place orders carries civil and legal penalties, too. If caught breaking the lockdown decree, such as by visiting Golden Gate Park to smoke one with your friends, offenders can be cited a $1,000 fine and a misdemeanor charge for violating health and safety code. That may not sound like the end of the world for most folks, but for anyone on probation or parole, it could mean getting sent back to jail, where avoiding COVID-19 is much, much more difficult than it is outside of the pen. 

Furthermore, smoking weed in public is also a civil infraction in California. Getting lit at Hippie Hill against the city and state’s order could potentially catch someone a $100 fine on top of the penalties for violating shelter-in-place.

Other cities have already canceled their 4/20 celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well. Last month, the organizers of the FlyHy 420 Festival at Denver’s Civic Center Park announced the event would not happen due to fears of spreading the coronavirus. The dank Denver debauch draws an estimated crowd of 75,000 people per year. 

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Randy Robinson
Based in Denver, Randy studied cannabinoid science while getting a degree in molecular biology at the University of Colorado. When not writing about cannabis, science, politics, or LGBT issues, they can be found exploring nature somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Catch Randy on Twitter and Instagram @randieseljay
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