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Church Offers Support for Cannabis Users on 4/20

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For those who believe getting high on 4/20 is a spiritual experience, there’s a church for you. 

This year, a San Francisco Bay Area church is teaming up with a local merchants’ association and non-profit organizations to offer a “safety net” of services to cannabis users celebrating 4/20 after San Francisco canceled its official event. 

The city’s annual 4/20 event celebrating cannabis was nixed by the organizers and city officials due to reported economic constraints. In that absence, the groups will be providing water, medical aid, portable toilets, trash pickup and more on Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park on Saturday, where thousands are expected to still gather.

The church’s pastor Dave Hodges, said in a statement that for “cannabis devotees,” the annual event is the equivalent of a “religious pilgrimage.” 

“We see this as a religious event,” he said. “Anybody who is going out to Hippie Hill on 4/20 to smoke a joint, they’re doing that religiously, whether or not they realize it.” 

The Church of Ambrosia describes itself on its website as a “nondenominational, interfaith religious organization that supports the use and safe access of all Entheogenic Plants, with a focus on Cannabis and Magic Mushrooms.”

The church in its statement said its efforts are “aimed at ensuring the annual event will be safe.” 

The church said it, along with the Bay Area Psychedelic Network, will set up a booth to dispense thousands of bottles of water, and any donations received will go to that non-profit organization. 

The Haight Ashbury Merchants Association, which represents Businesses in the neighborhood, will provide 30-plus portable toilets using church donations, supplementing 10 provided by the city. The church also said it donated funds for a “medic tent” and is paying four medics who will have the medication Narcan available that can reverse opioid overdoses. Another group will provide drug testing strips.

Church officials and support staff will also wear T-shirts that say “Stoner Safety,” according to the church. 

The Church of Ambrosia opened its first location in Oakland, across the Bay from San Francisco, in 2019, when the city decriminalized natural psychedelics, and gave out cannabis and psychedelics as “sacrament.”

The church sued the city of Oakland in 2022 over a police raid that seized money and drugs, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Hodges voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit in 2023, according to local news outlet Oaklandside.

The church opened its second location in San Francisco in 2023.

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