4/20’s 10,000 Lbs Of Trash: Could We Learn From New Orleans?

As previously reported, 4/20 is a serious affair for the city of San Francisco. Whether you toked up at Hippie Hill or had your own special celebration, Saturday’s festivities brought smoke thick enough to rival Karl the Fog.

Uppercasing paints a horrifying picture of the stoner soiree that overtook not just Golden Gate Park but the Upper Haight and Panhandle. From the freakish amount of garbage and abandoned clothing to massive, volatile crowds and chaotic traffic impairing any real escape plan from morning ’til night, businesses were forced to close early and residents were stuck hunkering down and waiting for the come down. A paranoid shirtless man turned his psychosis into a near riot just outside Booksmith, forcing an early closure for the normally chill establishment.

The bigger story in the 4/20 aftermath is what to do the with the mess long after the trash is gone. As the Chron reports, 10,000 pounds of garbage was picked up by volunteers and SF park workers yesterday. Thanks to nice weather and its weekend date, 10,000 to 15,000 smoke-happy hippies equal lots of trash and over $10,000 in costs.

Despite 4/20’s ambiguous status as semi-unofficial marijuana celebration, dispensaries were certainly feeling spirited, as SF Civic Center reports. SPARC offered its loyal patrons free lighters, cheap pot, and hourly raffles.

As marijuana continues to be illegal for recreational use, SF struggles with what to do when an unofficial event promoting potentially illegal activities and run by no one person overruns a large chunk of the city. It might make sense for Sf to take a cue from New Orleans, where Mardi Gras’ success is actually measured on the trash it generates, along with typical markers like hotels reaching capacity or how much is spent on those stupid shirts declaring “I Put Ketchup on my Ketchup.”

Mardi Gras is not only tradition but a city sanctioned event: one with permits, proper police presence, full accessibility, street closures, and all that goes into a large-scale celebration. How many of those things do we have for SF’s 4/20 celebration?

the author

Always in motion. April Siese writes about music, takes photos at shows, and even helps put them on behind the scenes as a stagehand. She's written everything from hard news to beauty features, as well as fiction and poetry. She most definitely likes pie.

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