Last year was the great 4/20 smoke-in. Only a month into lockdown from COVID-19, annual 4/20 celebrations at San Francisco’s Hippie Hill were canceled in favor of virtual fare.
This month, San Francisco’s Office of Cannabis confirmed on April 5 that Golden Gate Park’s in-person 4/20 festivities will be forced to wait yet another year. That means Robin Williams Meadow will again be blighted in fencing and off-limits to revelers.
But for Reese Benton, though this year’s 4/20 will certainly feel a bit off, it is sure to be far from a total bummer.
On Tuesday, April 20, Benton celebrates the grand opening of Posh Green. Though she’s technically been open since July, the upcoming stoner holiday serves as an ideal occasion to commemorate her yearslong struggle to become the first Black woman to own a dispensary in San Francisco.
Despite her role in shaping San Francisco’s equity program — first with former District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen, later with the Office of Cannabis’ first director, Nicole Elliot — Benton’s plans to open Posh Green for the 2019 Thanksgiving holiday were thwarted when a local resident’s petition against the store’s location eventually led to an injunction.
By the time things were resolved (hundreds of thousands of dollars later), it was April 2020 and COVID-19 was in full force. That pushed Posh Green’s opening to June 2, which Benton then delayed again in the aftermath of susbstantial damage and losses to numerous Bay Area cannabis businesses during Memorial Day weekend protests over the murder of George Floyd.
After all the delays and false starts, this Tuesday marks Posh Green’s first official 4/20.
The festivities got an early start when Posh Green became one of only two San Francisco dispensaries (along with the Apothecarium) selected to carry Houseplant, a popular new cannabis line from stoner celebrity Seth Rogen.
On Thursday, April 15, Houseplant’s three strains of cannabis flower were made available to local customers. It sold like gangbusters.
“We’ve spent the last year evaluating the California market in search of dispensaries that align with Houseplant’s values,” says Melissa Greenberg, Houseplant’s chief consumer officer. “One of the key elements we focused on was diversity, and we are proud to have Posh Green, San Francisco’s first Black, female-owned dispensary, as one of Houseplant’s launch dispensaries.”
It’s all great news for Benton, and marks a milestone for her brand, but the cannapreneur isn’t resting on her laurels. She’s looking to capitalize on this moment, and is already looking ahead to a future in franchising.
“I’m ready to franchise,” she says. “I have some equity spaces in the city that I can open and I’m ready to franchise whenever somebody wants to franchise. Hit me up.”
Alphonso “Tucky” Blunt is another local cannabis equity license holder looking forward to 4/20 this year.
Blunt has been selling cannabis in Oakland since he was 16-years-old. In 2017, he was given an opportunity to go legit when he received the world’s first equity license ever issued for a recreational cannabis dispensary. Blunts + Moore has subsequently become an Oakland staple, located just a stone’s throw from Oracle Arena.
But then, last May, Blunts + Moore was hit in the same string of cannabis businesses burglaries that set Posh Green back. In the aftermath, the store was forced to restrict operations for nearly a year before finally reopening in full last month.
That makes this year’s 4/20 an especially meaningful one for Blunt.
“Exciting,” he says. “That’s the best word I can use. We’re glad we’re back.”
To mark the occasion, Blunt has partnered with SIACOLLECTIVE – a Black-owned designer and brand – to release a limited-edition sneaker called the Smoking Vulture.
“Part of the shoe actually ‘smokes’ when it’s above 70 degrees,” Blunt explained, “and it has a quote about me being the first equity person.”
Naturally, those lucky enough to grab a pair (a release earlier this year in Atlanta reportedly drew over 1,000 people) will also get “a big fat dimebag like I used to sell on the street,” according to Blunt, as well as a pre-roll and other goodies.
“This is a Black-owned, Black-designed shoe release at a Black-owned dispensary for 4/20,” Blunt summarized. “And it’s a signature shoe. Nothing like this has ever been done before.”