Cannabis Insider: Field Notes from San Francisco’s Marijuana Social Scene

Cannabis Insider: Field Notes from San Francisco’s Marijuana Social Scene


A local marijuana reporter opens his notebook and shares all the latest gossip and happenings in the San Francisco Bay Area's budding cannabis social scene. Here's what's happening this month.


Best New 5K For a Cause

Looking down from the steps of the California Academy of Sciences, towards the Golden Gate Park Bandshell on Saturday morning, you would be forgiven for thinking you were seeing the end of one of those clichéd 5K runs for a cause. Hundreds of people milled about in spandex and running shoes from Altra and Nike, while taking selfies on gold iPhone 6s, catching their breath, and checking out booths from Lagunitas Brewing and Bearnaked Granola. Diabetes? Breast cancer? Nope. This 5K run's cause was weed legalization—a California ballot initiative is expected in November 2016.

You didn't have to smoke to enjoy the world's first pot-positive athletics series, The 420 Games. But the winner did. Former collegiate athlete turned Los Angeles–based edibles distributor Chris Barnicle ran the symbolically 4.2-mile course in 18 minutes and one second, whilst soaring on a CBD-rich strain of cannabis called Harlequin mixed with Sour Diesel. (A typical 5K is 3.1 miles; The 420 Games' runners were to go the extra mile for cannabis normalization.)

Barnicle, along with the female first place finisher, San Raphael oncology nurse Marissa Diaz, took home grand prizes: $500 in medical cannabis credit from the delivery service Eaze.

“Absolutely no smoking…and no vaping," Marin-based organizer Jim McAlpine ordered over a bullhorn. Two Park Rangers straddled their 10-speeds and looked on, bemused. Due to permitting issues, The 420 Games was the one park event where you explicitly couldn't get high. On-site doctor's recommendations for marijuana were available, however, for just $25.

San Jose's beefcake UFC fighter Kyle Kingsbury posed shirtless with his adorbs wife and baby, talking up the merits of CBD with the Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle, KPIX and KRON. Two hundred newspapers ran the story on Sunday.

Marissa Diaz and Chris Barnicle, the second- and first-place winners of the 420 Games' 5K run, took home gift certificates for medical marijuana from Eaze. (Photo by David Downs)

The Politics of Pot

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is officially leading the California 2016 legalization effort, he said on Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday, Aug. 7. “We have strong confidence that we'll win," Newsom said.

Meanwhile, state Assembly member Bill Quirk, a former NASA climate scientist, held a fundraiser for his personal campaign at leading cannabis college Oaksterdam University in Oakland on Aug. 11. And on Aug. 14 in Burlingame, California Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma led a California Democratic Party executive board panel on “the New Business of Cannabis," hosted by the Business and Professions Caucus.


Hot strain of the month: Gelato. Once a closely held concoction from the Cookie Family—that group of breeders who created the famous Girl Scout Cookies strain (#cookiefam)—Gelato has caught fire around the Bay. A cross of Thin Mint Cookies and Sunset Sherbet, it tastes like creamy, fruity desert and is as potent as they come. The buds are dark purple, dense, and multi-colored, with the pinks and oranges of wildfire season sunsets.

Conspicuous consumable: Moonshine Melts' Zkittlez 73u. “Fresh Frozen" extract from Emerald Cup–winning artisanal, small-batch, non-solvent hash makers. Instead of the usual dried, cured, plant trim–based hash, Moonshine Melts uses fresh, wet, ripe buds that are processed frozen. It's maximally potent, flavorful and very low yield granular goo. It's also $100 per gram.


U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, known for targeting medical marijuana's best and brightest, said she was quitting this September, and the industry has been singing “ding dong, the witch is dead" ever since. Then the feds dropped a bomb. The FBI issued an affidavit Aug. 10 for the arrest of Dan Rush—an Oakland-based United Food and Commercial Workers Union organizer and a well known, key figure in the legalization movement—for alleged bribes and dispensary application-rigging. The affidavit looks bad. Four of his associates wore wires. Rush was reportedly paying the cell phone bills of his friends in the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club using a credit card fueled by legal kickbacks. The UFCW fired Rush on Friday. Rush's attorney, William Osterhoudt, stated: “… for the present [Rush's] presumption of innocence should be respected." (Italics ours.)

Flow Kana celebrated its Oakland launch with a private party and tasting, courtesy of growers from Happy Day Farms and Swami Select, at a private home in Piedmont. (Photo by Tyler Polani)


Farm to table delivery serviceFlow Kana expanded its offering of organic, outdoor-grown buds to the East Bay earlier this month with a salon, talk, and tastings at a private Piedmont residence rented for the event via Airbnb. Partygoers mostly skipped the wine table and headed straight for the Happy Moose Juice and the smorgasbord in the dining room. Outside on the patio, a power tasting ensued. Flow Kana's menu also offers some lower-THC and higher-CBD varieties—great for those with a very low tolerance. Look for the Tsunami Rose, Ying-Yang, and CBD Veganic Angel Food.

Upcoming: The 420 Games' next stop is in San Jose, where a $125-per-ticket golf tournament at Los Lagos Golf Course will be sponsored by Harborside Health Center on Aug. 29.

Overheard: “A single medical marijuana joint uses just one-half gallon of water, compared to 15 gallons or more for one glass of wine. If Californians want to save water, they should put away the bottle and light up a joint." —Dale Gieringer, California NORML, San Francisco


Contact Cannabis Insider with event announcements, tips, notes, and rumors at Herb Caine is the pseudonym for Bay Area cannabis reporter David Downs, contributing author of Beyond Buds (2014).

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