SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — San Francisco is on the eve of another 420, the unofficial cannabis holiday is set to bring another wave of marijuana enthusiasts to Golden Gate Park and Haight-Ashbury on Saturday.
Residents are bracing for the crowds while city officials are doing their best to prepare.
This year, the list of cautions and warnings was an extension of the events of a year ago when a number of people reportedly overdosed at the event.
“Please do not buy your cannabis on the street. A lot of it was laced with fentanyl. We know that is deadly,” said District 5 Supervisor Vallie Brown at a press conference Thursday.
It was a renewed suggestion that the dozen or so people who were rushed out at last year’s 420 event were stricken by fentanyl-laced marijuana, something that has been reported for a year now.
But KPIX 5 asked the Health Department if there is any confirmed evidence that those people were sickened by laced cannabis.
“No. I know that’s how it’s been reported, but I don’t think we know how people consumed, or got exposed to the opioids that they did,” said San Francisco Health Officer Tomás J. Aragón.
That is not to downplay the dangers of fentanyl-laced drugs, which have claimed lives in San Francisco, specifically tainted methamphetamine. However, the city health officer says there are no confirmed cases of overdose from tainted marijuana.
Nonetheless, authorities are preparing for every kind of problem tomorrow. This is, after all, an event that happens “to” the city.
“It’s not something we recruit or solicit,” said SF Rec & Park head Phil Ginsburg. He is asking everyone to be a kind and respectful guest.
“Treat this park that is 149 years old as preciously as it deserves to be treated,” said Ginsburg.
Then are the problems that swamp the surrounding neighborhood, every single year. Namely traffic and overwhelmed transit lines that bring the Haight and Cole-Valley to a standstill.
The city says it will have more police, more busses and more parking control. But they also admit that 420 falling on a Saturday will also mean as many as 5,000 to 10,000 more people.
This year’s event marks the third time the city is partnering with event producer and Haight Street businessman Alex Aquino.
Previously, for decades before, the event went on without any type of sponsorship or extra security, leading to traffic nightmares, instances of people urinating in public, damage to public and private property and straining police, park and transportation resources.
“We’re ready for more people to come and basically we’re beefing up the corridor clean up and we got downtown street sweepers helping out,” Aquino said. “We upped the porta-potties and we have more ambulances and EMTs on site, a bigger clean-up crew and we’re just going to have a bigger event.”
Although smoking will be allowed inside the fenced, 18 and over event, only those who are 21 and over will be allowed to so.