With festival season in full swing, we wanted to take a moment to appreciate the festival-goers who’ve helped de-stigmatize cannabis over the years, educating the masses on how powerful the plant can be. Here’s a look at how far we’ve come.
It wasn’t that long ago that music festivals were villainized in the media, particularly for the prevalence of one plant: cannabis. Critics expressed concern over the “glamorization” of cannabis at festivals, continuing to feed into the negative stereotypes surrounding it. Cut to today, where you can wash down an edible with a THC-infused beverage at some of the biggest festivals in the world. So how did we go from clutching our pearls to passing out pre-rolls?
Festival-goers and organizers have helped de-stigmatize the plant throughout the decades—beginning with the original Woodstock in 1969, where “weed was in better supply than water,” up until 2019, when Outside Lands, San Francisco’s largest music festival, debuted Grass Lands, a fenced off, mini-festival dedicated entirely to cannabis.
While the festivals themselves might not last for years, their impact on the community does. In December 2018, the Emerald Cup, the largest outdoor cannabis competition in the world, became the first event in the state of California to allow the sale of cannabis onsite. Prior to the event, the host city of Santa Rosa passed a “cannabis ordinance as a way to ‘normalize’ the industry within our economy,” the city’s Mayor Tom Schwedhelm told Billboard.
Shortly after, Northern Nights, a three-day music festival held in northern California, became the first-ever music fest in the U.S. to legally allow cannabis sales and consumption in what organizers called the “Tree Lounge.” Attendees could purchase cannabis from pop-up dispensaries tucked away in the Redwoods along the Eel River. Cannabis was also incorporated into the festival’s wellness programming, exploring “mindfulness, healing, and community, in combination with the restorative powers of cannabis and CBD.”
A month later, Outside Lands premiered Grass Lands, making it the first major U.S. music festival to allow on-site cannabis consumption and sales. Vendors sold gummies, chocolates, vape pens, and pre-rolled joints. There was even a “smell wall” where attendees could breathe in vaporized terpenes.
“People who had never really gotten to experience cannabis firsthand before were learning a ton and enjoying their first experiences with their friends in a safe and normalized setting,” Moxie CEO Jordan Lam, whose company was a vendor in the Grass Lands section, told Pollstar.
While events were put on pause in 2020 due to COVID-19, they’re now coming back with a vengeance, and they’re as cannabis-friendly as ever. This year, Select will be the first-ever cannabis sponsor of the Pitchfork Music Festival, which takes over Union Park in Chicago one weekend every year. Held Sept. 10-12, Pitchfork will feature SelectX, an out-of-this-world cannabis experience.
Following the overwhelming success of Grass Lands, other industries have already started looking for ways to incorporate cannabis into their live events. According to Lam, “in the foreseeable future you will be able to go to a football game and consume cannabis.”
All thanks to the trailblazing (and regular blazing) festival-goers throughout the years.