WEED, Calif. -- Ironically Saturday, April 20, 2019 was the City of Weed, California’s very first 4/20 festival. Local cannabis industry leaders said it’s been a long and hard road to get there.
After five years of going to the Weed City Council to legalize recreational marijuana, Jim Striegel's work has paid off.
"To finally see it legal in California is exciting and to be in the town of Weed on 4/20 for the first annual celebration is great,” added Striegel.
And thus the first ever 4-20 Educational Weed Festival in Weed, California was born. The city even shut down Main Street for the festivities.
"Education is key even with the cannabis users themselves or officials, just do the reading," said the CEO of La Florista Cannabis dispensary Elizabeth Tabor.
The festivals organizers said the road to recreational marijuana in Weed hasn't been easy. California voters passed Prop 64 or the Adult Use Marijuana Act back in November 2016. Californians couldn't legally buy pot from dispensaries until the start of 2018. And even now it's still illegal in much of Siskiyou County. In fact, Weed's dispensary La Florista Cannabis didn't open its doors to recreational marijuana until about May of last year.
"Once adult use passed that kind of opened the doors to take baby steps in this city. So far they've really embraced us, they've welcomed us here. We're part of the community. We're part of the development and the revitalization of Downtown Weed," added Tabor.
Striegel said part of the city's revitalization is coming up with a clever mascot. He came up with ‘Tokey the Bear.’
“He's Smokey Bear's cousin except he doesn't work for the Forest Service. He grows in the forest," Striegel said.
He hopes to turn Tokey into something similar to Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day in order to bring more tourists and more money to the city every year on April 20th.
"If he sees his shadow spring is here to stay. If he doesn't see his shadow then we party anyway."
The festival goes until 7pm on 242 Main Street in Weed.