First, there was Woodstock. Then, there was Lollapalooza, and Coachella. Now, Northern Nights is bringing cannabis to the festival stage. California’s fifth annual Northern Nights music festival this past weekend featured legalized cannabis as one of its main attractions. The weekend long, self-proclaimed “premier craftique music festival” was held smack-dab in the middle of the Emerald Triangle, formed by three of Cali’s foremost weed-producing counties: Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity County.

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The music festival is one of the first in the United States to allow the sales of recreational cannabis. Check out the talent lineup from the festival here. According to Peter Huson, co-founder and compliance manager for Northern Nights, plans for last weekend’s festival included “a cannabis retail and consumption area that goes by the name of the Tree Lounge. It is [a] 21 and over area and cannabis sales and consumption are restricted to that area. Essentially it is an onsite temporary dispensary. It has all the same rules you would have at a dispensary, it’s just inside a festival.”

Northern Nights Festival Source: Northern Nights Festival Facebook
Andrew Blap co-founded the Northern Nights music festival with Huson. In a recent interview with Billboard, “In the Tree Lounge, we are going to highlight the history and the culture and the small farmers of Humboldt and Mendocino counties. You can come to meet the farmers and see the people who have been growing weed for you for years. You never really put a face to the name, but now with legalization, you can.”

The festival even featured a “farm to bong competition,” where contestants used “local produce and vegetables…to carve a bong and the winner will get announced each day. If we can promote some of the local brands then these attendees are going to think about that when they are buying weed the rest of the year.” In another interview with Amplify, said Blap, “Let’s be honest, cannabis has always been apart of festivals but little did we know that cannabis was going to be legalized in the State of California five years after Northern Nights was founded in 2013.

With the unique location of Cook’s Valley Campground, on the Country Line of Mendocino/Humboldt, it’s only natural for NN to highlight the cultivators of culture and authentic cannabis from the Emerald Triangle, the Northern California vibes.”

Crowds gather for the annual 420 celebration in Golden Gate Park. A woman holds a sign promoting the event. iStock / colloidial
California law prohibits legal recreational cannabis and alcohol from being consumed in the same place, forcing the Northern Nights festival to get creative with their festival design. Alcohol was permitted on the Mendocino side, and cannabis was consumed on the Humboldt County side.

“Everyone is going to be comfortable in both the alcohol and the cannabis spaces. We separated them by county because our event happened on the country line with the idea that you can demonstrate compliance and responsible management of these areas. We want to help get to a point in the future where you could have both cannabis and alcohol in the same county and at the same event.” Matty Roberts, the festival’s talent and art director, has expressed that “normalization of cannabis is a really positive thing. To be part of that, and to be a leader in that, we’re very honored and truly humbled to get to do that.”

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