SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - "Please pick up some garbage when you're leaving." That was the announcement made at around 5 p.m. when organizers turned off the DJ's music to inform the crowd that the annual 4/20 event in Golden Gate Park was over. Park rangers on ATVs ushered droves of people out of the park.
Every year as many as 15,000 people descend on Sharon Meadows in Golden Gate Park-- an area also referred to as 'Hippie Hill' for the unofficial pot lovers' celebration. This year did not disappoint.
Judging by what we saw, this year's event ran smoothly considering the amount of people in one place. San Francisco police said there were no arrests inside the park related to the event. In year's past, there have been complaints about the tons of trash left behind, bad behavior and even violence.
There was an arrest from a non-fatal stabbing on Haight Street in the nearby Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, but it was not certain if the incident was connected to the festivities.
Although this was the first 4/20 since recreational marijuana was legalized in the state of California, the party is still an unsanctioned, illegal event -- although it does have a sponsor. A group of merchants in the Haight neighborhood invested to pay for things like 200 portable restrooms, extra fences, barricades, security and medical personnel for the 4/20 celebration.
Clothing store owner Alex Aquino describes himself as the unofficial event organizer. He is among the group of merchants who spent $150,000 to make what they say are necessary improvements to the festival.
"We don't want it to go away. We wanted a celebration. It's like Halloween in the Castro," Aquino said, referring to the Castro event's cancellation after a shooting broke out in the streets, injuring 9 people in 2006, effectively ending the event ever since.
Tens of thousands of people flocked to events that ranged from marijuana cooking classes to the annual bacchanal on Hippie Hill. >>>>>To see video: Click here
Some revelers on complained the event was less free-spirited than in the past. Security checked IDs and turned away people who didn't have them, leading to some angry exchanges.
"People were joking in the line to get in, `What is this? Coachella,"' said Tara Scott, 42, referring to the giant Southern California music festival.
The money that's being invested in the event brought new rules for attendees.
For the first time people will have to go through security gates. They cannot bring glass containers or bongs. There were no BBQ's, tents or music speakers allowed.
This year's event was strictly 18 and up - with no children allowed.
San Francisco Police said they would be working with child protective services to make sure no one underage is at this event.
Police also set up a hotline residents could call to report public urination and other quality of life concerns.
Ahead of the unofficial holiday, most of the residents KTVU spoke with said they were cautiously optimistic and hoped the changes this year would make things a little cleaner and a little less chaotic.
Other U.S. cities observe 420
From Capitol Hill to Hippie Hill, marijuana enthusiasts observed their 4/20 holiday Thursday with public smoke-outs, parties and, yes, great deals on weed.
Before the clock even hit 4:20 p.m., there were arrests in the nation's capital, as police took seven people into custody at a demonstration that involved handing out joints to congressional staff members.
Pot fans in Los Angeles went for a cannabis-fueled hike, and in Portland, Maine, an author gave away more than 200 grams of marijuana to a long line of fans.
Overcast skies and drizzle didn't stop thousands of people -- many in costume -- from gathering at a park near the Colorado Capitol.
At 4:20 p.m., they lit up and sent out a raucous cheer -- as well as a cloud of smoke that lingered in the humid air.
The annual celebration of cannabis culture gave activists an opportunity to reflect on how far they've come -- recreational use of marijuana is now legal in eight states and the nation's capital -- and on the national political tone, with Trump administration officials reprising talking points from the heyday of the war on drugs.
"We're looking at an attorney general who wants to bring America back into the 1980s in terms of drug policy," said Vivian McPeak, a founder of Hempfest in Seattle. "I'm skeptical they can put the cannabis genie back into the bottle."
President Donald Trump hasn't clarified what his approach to marijuana will be, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions opposes the drug's legalization and this month ordered a review of the government's marijuana policy, which has included a largely hands-off approach in legal marijuana states.
This year's 4/20 party follows successful legalization campaigns in California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts, which joined Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington as states that allow recreational marijuana. More than half of all states now allow medical marijuana.
About two dozen pot fans in the Los Angeles area opted for a morning celebration, gathering at a trailhead in the Altadena foothills for "High'ke," a 2.5-mile trek that promised joints to everyone who made it to the 5,600-foot peak of Mount Lowe.
Anna Acosta, 49, said she hoped to revel in the "camaraderie of being out in nature with a bunch of nature-loving, tree-loving, like-minded people."
Pot shops in some legal marijuana states were offering discounts. In Alaska, though, regulators put a damper on promotions, warning retail shops about an "alarming amount of social media advertisements for 4/20 celebrations" that violate state rules against certain activities, such as games or competitions, that encourage pot sales.
A shop in Seattle was hosting a block party, and a nearby sex-toy business was offering a class about how marijuana can improve intimate relations.
Legalization opponents weren't going quietly. Smart Approaches to Marijuana said drug policy experts and elected leaders convened in Atlanta for a summit featuring Barry McCaffrey, the former drug czar under President Bill Clinton, and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.
"Smart drug policy starts with science and research, not ideology or profit," McCaffrey said in a news release from the organization.