The stoner attack hit Isla Vista’s Espresso Roma around 4:40 p.m. Saturday when hordes of glassy-eyed revelers from the Fourth Annual 420-Fest in Anisq’ Oyo’ Park streamed in oohing and ahhing at Roma’s shiny display of cakes, brownies and cookies.
Meanwhile in the park, festival organizer and HempWise owner Al Espino jumped onto the stage to the cheers of more than 500 cannabis fans and friends who basked in the spring sun.
“No more are we going to stand for the complete disregard for us as active members of this community,” Espino told the crowd in his MC capacity. “We’re here, we’re active and we smoke pot!”
Longtime I.V. local and vendor Sam Mikalson, who sold jewelry and clothing at the festival, celebrated his 52nd birthday Saturday in the park. The vibe was very positive, said Mikalson, who worried less about theft amidst the high-minded.
“It’s a lot better than 600 drunks,” said Mikalson. “No fights, everyone’s in a great mood.”
Sevan Matossian – co-creator of “IVTV” – surveyed the smoky sea of heads from the back row, saying his only complaint was that it could have been a little bit warmer.
“If it was ten degrees warmer, there’d be a lot more bikinis,” he said. “I mean, I’m conservative, but if it was just a little hotter, I’d take my clothes off.”
Matossian said he recognized some undercover police officers mingling within the massive toke-fest of blunts, joints, spliffs, pipes and doobies – part of an amiable and low-key police presence throughout the festival.
Espino said the I.V. Foot Patrol was very accommodating.
“We started out a couple months ago, meeting with Lt. [Russ] Birchim,” he said. “We see eye-to-eye and they know we’re doing this as a gift to provide a good time and some awareness, and he provided a low profile and some good service.”
Espino said only one person was stopped and it was for Minor in Possession.
The festival included a fiery, albeit predictably drifting, speech by Professor Marc McGinnes.
“[Drug Czar] Asa Hutchinson is a sanctimonious twit. Sorry, name-calling doesn’t do any good, but that’s the way I feel. I have a picture of myself communing on the beach, with my joint, … communing. … And here comes the choppers, and out comes three guys in suits and Asa Hutchinson saying, ‘Excuse me Doctor, you’re doing something illegal!'”
Local band OJ Barbados rounded off the day of inhalation and education and a HempWise raffle sent some fans home with new hemp wares. Espino said the festival went off without a hitch but is only part of a larger session.
“Education is a beginning, but there’s so much more to it,” he said. “Most people in this community have started down that path – educating ourselves and others around us. But they don’t realize there’s much more to this because it’s not in the mainstream, and there’s corporations who don’t want you to know. That’s why I think it’s so important to keep repeating ourselves. 420 is every day, just like Earth Day is every day. It’s something you can’t forget.”