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At Least 8 Arrested in San Francisco on 420

At least eight people were arrested on felony charges during 4/20 celebrations in San Francisco, police said.

Thousands of stoners and marijuana proponents gathered on Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park, near the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, to mark the pot smokers’ holiday. They lit up at 4:20 p.m., the sacred moment for tokers.hippie hill 420

Smokers and users were joined by scores of vendors selling products and edibles under canopy tents. Though police said they would crack down on drug sales, the vendors drew little attention from law enforcement.

Police spent most of their time and resources patrolling the Haight-Ashbury, Hippie Hill and the Sharon Meadow section of the park. They issued hundreds of advisements, or warnings, to revelers for minor infractions: camping and open containers, for example.

Police issue an advisement when they witness a legal infraction but decide not to issue a citation or make an arrest. But between eight and ten people were arrested and face felony charges, said Officer Danielle Newman. She didn’t say what the charges might be.

That’s a substantial increase from last year, when there were no reports of serious crime. On the other hand, there was a greater police presence this April than last.

The April 20 event lasted until the park closed at 10 p.m. Officers patrolled the surrounding neighborhoods into the night.

Security and logistics have increased since last year’s event. That’s in large part because weed is becoming more widely acceptable, drawing a more diverse crowd. Medical marijuana has been legal in California for 18 years, and full legalization may be just around the corner.

Streets were blocked to traffic around Hippie Hill and Haight Street to avoid a traffic jam like one that occurred on Stanyan Street in 2013. Vehicles were diverted into Cole Valley, Lone Mountain, and other surrounding neighborhoods.

crime handcuffsAttendance numbers weren’t immediately available, but last year’s event drew about 15,000 people. After they were gone, it cost more than $10,000 to clean up what they left behind. This year officials urged tokers to follow park rules and “pack it in, pack it out.”

April 20 is an especially important holiday in the Bay Area. The term “420,” synonymous with “weed,” originated in San Rafael, across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County.

There, a group of high school boys went in search of an abandoned patch of pot growing in Point Reyes Forest. They had a map, and every day they would meet under a statue outside their school at 4:20 p.m., after practice.

They started using the term to refer to the treasure hunt: “420” was code for the elusive stash. They never found it, but 420 entered the stoner lingo by way of a connection to the Grateful Dead. Eventually 420 became 4:20 became 4/20, the now official holiday of marijuana lovers everywhere.

About Matt Brooks

Based in San Francisco, Matt is a journalist who has specialized in marijuana policy for more than five years. He provides regular news coverage on marijuanaandthelaw.com and californiamarijuanamarket.com.

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