With the first licensed recreational cannabis festival in the United States, Sacramento made history this weekend as High Times Cannabis Cup Central Valley rolled into Cal Expo on May 4 and 5. Beyond the open recreational market, those who attended the festival were primarily enjoying the legendary sounds of Ms. Lauryn Hill and Lil Wayne, among other artists.
While many were unsure what to expect, festival organizers secured the first State Cannabis Event Organizer License and State Temporary Event License less than a week before the event took place. The official resolution indicated that the City Manager will have the power to review and approve requests to “hold events with onsite adult-use cannabis sales and consumption at Cal Expo facilities.”
For those who chose to consume on the premises, the options seemed to be endless. With promotions and affordable samples, attendees were given all the consumption options, including the classic flower in its many strains, a variety of edibles, vape pens, dabs, and accessories. And for each of these options, there was a golden cup awarded for the “best” in show.
Given the circumstances, this may have been one of the less lively crowds for a music festival setting. Nonetheless, the power of music always prevails as certain artists knew just how to get the crowd fired up.
On Friday evening, the Teflon Don, otherwise known as Rick Ross, kicked off the musical portion of the festival with the rich production of his luxurious catalog. Performing such hits as “Aston Martin Music”, “Hustlin'” and his verse from “Monster,” his stage presence lacked the power his music is renowned for, but ultimately mixed well with the given environment.
While the sun was still setting, Ludacris took the stage with a set that woke the crowd up enough to dance and revel along to an extensive list of classics. Masterfully transitioning from song to song, he made sure to mention his real-life family connection to Sacramento, before going into his 2001 hit “Area Codes.” The Atlanta rapper and actor was undoubtedly one of the weekend’s highlights, performing fan favorites such as “Welcome to Atlanta,” “Blueberry Yum Yum” and “Pimpin’ All Over the World.”
Just as the cup was making history of its own, Saturday’s performances felt like an unfathomable experience for many in attendance. The youngest artist of the weekend, appropriately named Rich the Kid, did his best to figure in the mix of long-time greats. His biggest hits, “Plug Walk” and “New Freezer” coolly had the crowd bopping the afternoon heat away.
By the time Cypress Hill took the stage, it was clear the crowd was getting more into each performance. Joined by Mix Master Mike, B-Real lead Cypress Hill into a stoner-friendly setlist featuring “Dr. Greenthumb” and “Hits from the Bong,” with a joint in hand nonetheless.
For many fans, no other set mattered as much as Lil Wayne’s performance at this year’s Cannabis Cup. Once the most celebrated rapper on planet Earth, ‘Lil Tunechi’ strolled through his set like a “veteran in the hall of fame.” In the middle of performing such hits as “Mr. Carter,” “A Milli,” and his verse from “No Problems,” he offered a short anecdote on love, based on a father daughter encounter he witnessed on his drive to Cal Expo from the Sacramento Airport. With diamonds glittering in place of teeth, his smile and energy radiated throughout his performance.
In the final entry of the weekend’s historic bout, Ms. Lauryn Hill made sure to build anticipation an hour past her scheduled set time, living up to the legend that has come with her performances. Dashing to the mic, Ms. Hill opened her first solo performance in Sacramento by altering the opening lines of “Everything is Everything” to say, “I wrote these words, for Sacramento.” From this point on the crowd was high on her presence alone. With a duality in her presence that embodies a true Gemini–demonstrating an anxious and soothing demeanor–Ms. Hill delivered a riveting performance where every guitar strum, lyrical stanza, and beat break was just as unpredictable as the last. While her vocal cadence came short at times, her stage presence never failed to leave a lasting impression, much like the body of work she has used to transcend time.
For more information on the City of Sacramento’s Marijuana policies, visit CityofSacramento.org/marijuana.
For more information on High Times Cannabis Cup, including the upcoming Cannabis Cup Northern California, visit CannabisCup.com.
Photos by Cesar Alexander.