After a full year of cannabis finally being recreationally legal, 4/20 – the annual high holiday for stoners that originated in the Bay Area in the late 70s – is more popular than ever in L.A. The city is redefining its 4/20 identity, as the legal market matures and the holiday evolves from a day for only the most dedicated stoners and canna-nerds into a mass marketing event and sales opportunity for the cannabis industry. Despite all that, the big business of weed has a wonky road ahead as Los Angeles officials continue to spend millions on enforcement.
Black Friday for Stoners
It appears 4/20 has become a lucrative holiday for not only cannabis retailers but also other brands looking to capitalize on the holiday. According to Postmates, hamburger orders increased by more more than 300 percent on 4/20 and orders for Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Tacos doubled. Carl’s Jr. revealed a nationally hyped CBD infused burger in Denver, while Nike and Adidas both dropped stoner-friendly shoes.
And in Los Angeles, hundreds of people lined up outside of stores even before they opened to get a head start on 4/20 deals. Stores gave away weed practically for free, waved taxes on new drops, and solicited celebrity endorsements to capitalize on the holiday. Beyond city limits, in Adelanto, Kushstock hosted a free festival that featured vendors as well as live performances.
Thousands of people made the 150-mile-trek from Los Angeles to the Mojave desert to experience the free festival but a lot of attendees were ultimately let down. Both during and after the event, people expressed frustrations over parking, long lines, and an overall lack of cannabis vendors.
In a public response, organizers expressed their own frustrations with the state’s cannabis laws saying, “I don’t own the stadium, I don’t control the cops, fire, code enforcement. I can’t change the laws alone. But we can as a community.” In an Instagram post that restricted comments, Kushstock reported that they hosted a modest 106 vendors in Adelanto on Saturday but some attendees claimed, in the comments of other posts, that the majority of those vendors were distributing merch rather than cannabis. Overall, it sounded like Kushstock fell short of expectations this year.
The days when cannabis operated within a grey area are over and that means in today’s legal market, large public events like Kushstock are now held up to higher standards, ultimately restrained by the California Bureau of Cannabis and other regulatory agencies. Working within the confines of the legal market has proven to be challenging for some retailers and event organizers. Public consumption, for instance, is barred and consumption at events is heavily regulated, unlike the early days of cannabis events like High Times Cannabis Cup.
Published: April 23, 2019
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News