Cannabis and music festivals should exist in a blissful state of symbiosis. But in reality, festivals are late to the weed party. Even at fests in legal states, cannabis is not available for purchase, nor do they designate official cannabis consumption gardens in the way they present and sell alcohol. Security can confiscate weed if they find it on you, or worse, make you throw it away in front of them — a crime committed against thousands of hallucinating young scholars each summer. (RIP our fallen nugs.)
The industry behind festivals, as well as the cities these fests take place in, have been wildly averse to the concept of merging the legal cannabis market and the festival experience by allowing weed to be sold or consumed openly at these events. While this is probably due to the fact that most fests are backed by billionaires and occur in conservative places like Indio, it’s still a missed revenue opportunity. And beyond that, it’s downright silly. Festivals and weed have gone hand and hand since the days of Dionysus.
At this point, you almost have to be stoned to attend one. Especially in California.
Thankfully, Northern Nights, a raging electronic fest along the Eel River, deep in the Redwoods of Humboldt, is leading the charge (with this year’s Outside Lands following suit). This year, they became the first music festival to feature onsite dispensaries, a weedy lounge area, and the open consumption of cannabis.
“Northern Nights has been leading the way in cannabis activations and music festival integration since the festival started in 2012,” said Chelsea Lucich, the Cannabis Vendor Coordinator for Northern Nights. “Even back in 2015, we had a 215 area where medicinal patients could consume.” [215 refers to Prop 215 which was the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which allowed medicinal patients access to cannabis.]
“This year was special for many reasons,” Luchich continues. “It was the first year back since the pandemic started, so everyone was ready to experience the way cannabis and music give way to connection. But the real spark was the heart-focused curation of the Craft Cannabis Farmers Market.”
“Inspired by the small farmer initiative our friends at the Emerald Cup started, we gifted 20 booths for free to the craft farmers from our region. We wanted not only to pay respect to the area where our festival resides but to help preserve and bring awareness to the culture of craft cannabis that is currently on the brink of extinction.”
Speaking personally, I found the super vibey consumption and dispensary area, dubbed The Tree Lounge, to be a welcome respite from the rage of the main fest. Within this otherworldly collection of pillowed teepees and farmer booths slinging some of the best weed in the world, there was a full range of weedy activities like medicated dining, cannabis cocktail hours, weed yoga, stoned sound baths, and more canna-wellness programming.
We were lucky enough to attend Northern Nights this year, and sample a ton of the incredible offerings from small Humboldt-area farms. Here are some of our favs.
Sour Diesel by Sol Spirit Farm
Near the crystal winding waters of Willow Creek, along the border of Humboldt and Trinity County, is where you’ll find Sol Spirit Farm, home to some of the happiest and most eco-conscious flower on the market. Everything about this regenerative sungrown farm, as well as the farmers themselves, is high vibe. When you consume their flower, the magical energy they put into these plants transfers to you, making you shine like never before. Nowhere is this effect more apparent than in their classic cut of Sour Diesel, which has become one of my favorite iterations of the iconic strain.
Fluffy, sativa nugs move from ruddy to light green, with burnt orange hairs. The smell is heavy on the gas, with a sour, earthy finish. This is a classic cut of Sour Diesel, the kind that’s hard to find today, as the strain has been watered down over time, backcrossed into infinity in its common form.
The taste is gassy, earthy, with a lemon tea finish on the exhale. It immediately gets you high behind the eyes, with a marked head change. Then, suddenly, without warning, you spring into action. It’s like when you’re at the beach before noon and the layer of fog clears — the sun shines hot and bright and boom! The fun begins.
Instead of beach fog, this flower evaporates mental fog and springs you into productivity. I felt excited, elevated, and 2/3x more capable than before. Waves of excitement course in the absence of anxiety. The last note I had was “like putting a glitter filter on your life,” and I stand by that.
Bottom line: Perfect for obliterating to-do lists and transforming daily life into the rainbow level of Mario Kart 64.
Buy it here: $38
Magu’s Fruit by Sunroots Farm
Magu’s Fruit by Sunroots Farm is a unique cultivar that’s fit for a goddess and named after one, too. Magu is a legendary Taoist xian associated with the elixir of life and a symbolic protector of women in Chinese mythology. Also referred to as the Hemp Lady, she’s portrayed with long fingernails in an apron of leaves, carrying a basket of mushrooms and peaches with a container of fungus wine. Just like every other baddie at Northern Nights.
Her nugs are luscious and dark, mysterious, and covered in crystals. Cascading hues of purple with hints of white sage, bright green leaves, and dark orange hairs. The smell is a fruity, berry wonderland of cherries and plums, blackberries and currants.
Berry lemon on the exhale with a spicy, pepper kick, this flower immediately elevates you to a heightened space of clarity. It takes you soaring like an eagle, high enough to observe the minutia in everything below.
Colors seem brighter, vision is enhanced. Overall, this flower leaves me feeling uplifted and in tune with the world around me. While your mind is active, your body is soothed and melty. It’s a really beautiful dichotomy, the cerebral head high, piercing with clarity in thought and expression, paired with a euphoric body high that makes it feels like you’re flying.
Bottom line: Great for doing yoga, creating art, meditating, and other goddess activities.
Buy it here: $30
Pixie Dust by Esensia Gardens
Esensia Gardens produces some of the most beautiful weed in the world, regularly sweeping award shows with their meticulous sun-grown flower from Mendocino. Their proprietary Pixie Dust strain is no expectation, having won the Emerald Cup the past three years in a row.
Pixie Dust deserved every one of those coveted awards — it truly is that special. A cross between Blueberry and Magic Wand (another proprietary strain by Esensia), the nugs look like little velveteen rabbits, bright green, coated with crystals, sparkling in the sun.
The smell conjures peach ice cream, a garden in the summer, bees buzzing in the blackberries, and citrus blossoms in the heat. There’s a sumptuous sweetness to the smell that feels nostalgic in some way, with a little kick of lemon zest at the end.
The high is euphoric and relaxing and hits like a perfectly sweetened glass of iced tea. Everything about this high is tingly, soft, and kind. You can feel the physical stress release, making it perfect for taking the edge off a long day. Mentally, you’re lucid and bright, but your body is on a beach somewhere relaxing with a cocktail.
Bottom line: This magical strain is perfect for hot days, hot springs, and watching the sun set.
Buy it here: $40
Cherry Pie by Trinitrees Farm
This cut of Cherry Pie by Trinitrees Farm (available through Redwood Roots), is as fun as it is potent. Cherry Pie is another iconic strain from the years of yore, a cross between Granddaddy Purple and Durban Poison that kicks your ass in the best way possible. Like Sour Diesel, this is a great stain that you never see shining anymore — making this one all the more exciting.
This Cherry Pie makes you say WOW. The nugs are olive green and orange. The scent is fucking crazy, like whiskey, leather and bay leaves, pine and dark chocolate, cedar, fresh wood, and sap. It’s a romantic, complex scent, that translates to a similar profile on the exhale.
The high hits hard and fast. Immediately, everything is more intense, raising the saturation of the photo edit of your reality. I smoked a bong rip and completely forgot to write anything about the experience, instead rolling around on the couch, alternating between giggling and bouts of outer space. This flower also has a mildly sedative effect, allowing you to fully check out of existence if you want to, but not sending you straight to sleep if you don’t.
Bottom line: This is a great heavy hitter for daytime use if you’re that girl (I’m that girl), and nighttime/weekend use for everybody else.
Buy it here: $23
Gelonade by Moon Made Farms
Last but certainly not least, we have an incredible cut of Gelonade from one of my favorite farms in existence, Moon Made Farms. Moon Made is a woman-owned farm up in the hills of Humboldt near where the festival took place. This regenerative sun-grown farm also implements Indigenous practices of planting seeds by the moon cycles, resulting in some truly beautiful flower.
This Gelonade is a great get-up-and-go strain with a psychedelic bend. Frosty and bright green with hints of orange, these dense nugs pop with a sharp and spicy lemon explosion. You can get a sense of the high by smelling the flower, which is a sign of extremely good cannabis. High in caryophyllene, limonene and linalool, the flavor is lush lemon and pepper spice with a fruity twist at the end.
I love this strain because it’s not just upbeat and capable, it’s also flirty and fun. I smoke it before parties, meetings, and pretty much any time I have to converse with anyone, ever. It’s great for getting shit done but has a quirky flare that makes everything a little more interesting.
Bottom line: Perfect for spending time with others, silver linings, and finding joy in the mundane.
Buy it here: $30