This is what a city-wide illegal marijuana party looks like

And it shuts down the entire campus.

To: UC Santa Cruz Community
From: Nader Oweis, UC Santa Cruz Chief of Police
Re: Public Safety Alert for April 20

This notification is being provided to advise members of the campus community, others with valid reasons for visiting the UC Santa Cruz campus, and campus neighbors of the potential for disruptions and hazards associated with an unsanctioned gathering known as “4-20” during the afternoon of Sunday, April 20. The nature of the annual gathering may involve a large number of individuals in or near the Porter Meadow smoking marijuana, and the greatest impact is expected between 3 and 6 PM.

Obviously, a large-scale event based on the consumption of marijuana has the potential to impact campus safety. The fact that this event attracts many unaffiliated people to our campus adds to my concerns.

Among the unaffiliated people that UC Santa Cruz officers contacted at this event in 2013 were parents with young children, vendors operating without a permit, and people interested in selling marijuana and other illegal drugs on campus. In the past, our officers even identified a registered sex offender among those present, as well as a runaway juvenile from out of state.

The UC Santa Cruz Police Department and local law enforcement will be present again this year, with a priority of addressing public safety needs and providing emergency response. Police officers will conduct enhanced patrols throughout the day, looking for individuals in possession of and/or using marijuana, alcohol, or other drugs and drivers under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Police will also enforce laws and policies prohibiting unpermitted vending of any merchandise, food, or medical marijuana on the campus. Last year, several individuals received medical attention after consuming cookies and brownies laced with an unknown substance; two had to be hospitalized.

We are also concerned about fire danger. With the current drought and moderate weather conditions we are experiencing on our campus and throughout the state, please be aware that those smoking marijuana or using flammable substances put us in danger. In fact, California Fire Code section 310.8 strictly prohibits this type of gathering, where the ignition or use of smoking materials is utilized within the wild land and forest areas. Extreme caution must be exercised to avoid a devastating wild land fire and possible injuries to those who may be present.

Please respect the rights of others. This unsanctioned event significantly burdens the operations of the campus. It threatens the health and safety of the community, imposes unnecessary expenses, and taints the reputation of UC Santa Cruz for its students, staff and faculty.

As we get closer to April 20, I want to share additional information that may be helpful to campus safety that afternoon:

• Please remember that all members and guests of the UC Santa Cruz community are expected to comply with University policy and federal and state laws. At a minimum, those smoking or in possession of marijuana may receive a citation resulting in a $100 fine.

• Individuals identified as being affiliated with the University (students, staff) who are found under the influence of drugs or alcohol, in possession of drugs or alcohol, or participating in activities that are either illegal or in violation of University policy or regulations will be subject to disciplinary sanctions under the Student Code of Conduct or appropriate Human Resources process.

• Because of this expected activity, you should anticipate possible disruptions to traffic due to large groups of people, especially on the west side of campus, and plan accordingly. Campus and Metro bus service will be limited.

• Campus parking regulations will be strictly enforced. Sections of Empire Grade will be designated as a tow-away zone, and vehicles will be ticketed and towed at the owners’ expense.

• Traffic and transit flow may be highly impacted throughout the campus, especially along Empire Grade, and on Heller Drive from the West Entrance to McLaughlin Drive. Traffic diversion measures may be instituted if needed to alleviate impacted areas. If driving a vehicle, be alert for increased pedestrian traffic on all roadways.

• Because this activity attracts people who are unaffiliated with the campus, please make an extra effort to be aware of suspicious activity — and please don’t hesitate to immediately alert the UC Santa Cruz Police Department to such activity. If you are ever in doubt, it is always better to ask authorities to investigate, rather than risking potential harm to you or someone else. Please call 911 or 831-459-2231.

• Those who live and work in the areas around Family Student Housing, Porter College, and College Eight are advised that smoke may remain in the area throughout the late afternoon. Those with children, respiratory problems, or other medical conditions should use precautions.

• In addition, on April 20, there are several sanctioned events taking place, including the Healthy High Festival at OPERS from 2pm-6pm. This event is designed to provide healthy physical activities including a 5k run, a fun run for children, Easter activities, and other sporting activities. Officers will be present to assist organizers of the event.

Please support us in the effort to protect the campus community. Thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.

Nader Oweis, Chief of Police
University of California, Santa Cruz Police Department

We compared our two major consumption events this year in Seattle.

Hempfest involved a spike in food consumption, a large traffic jam, and buses overcrowded with spaced out people.

Fremont’s Oktoberfest (held in September?!) featured belligerence beyond belief, with more fights, vomiting, and general ruckus than anyone cares to deal with.

This might be an overreaction on Santa Cruz’s part. Just maybe.

Just wanted to mention that seeing this thread was “started by fire” seemed entirely appropriate to the subject.

Especially when you get to where the letter says, “We are also concerned about fire danger.” You’re darn right she’s dangerous, Chief!

As someone who lives in a college town, I see worse with the influx of people for every home football game. It doesn’t just shut down the campus it swamps half the town. The city considers this a good thing since it means more people coming to town and spending money even if it does put a load on the police.

I wouldn’t say it’s an overreaction – and, in fact, note that the police aren’t trying to enforce any kind of smoke-free policy. They can’t, and they don’t. In the past they’ve shut down the campus entrances, or checked IDs on entry, but that didn’t prevent thousands of people from sneaking on through the forest north of campus.

It seems to me instead that the police and other authorities are, in their way, embracing the “unsanctioned event” that’s about to happen. They are trying to make the campus a safe place, while understanding that thousands of people are going to be making their annual pilgrimage to the “Porter meadow.”

The meadow where people gather is a little valley between two residential halls. On one side is undergraduate housing. On the other side is family student housing. Lots of little tiny kids. The smoke fills the valley and overflows into the surrounding residential buildings. As mentioned in the police statement, the smoke stays in and around the meadow for hours. Hours. There is no air conditioning in either the dormitories or the family student housing, so windows are usually open. While you (or I) may not be against choosing to smoke marijuana, forcing others to breathe the smoke without their consent is another matter.

Another problem is fire danger. The meadow is covered in dry, crispy grass. A stray spark can start a fire that can quickly get out of control. Fires happen every year. Usually it’s arson. Or some freshman setting off homemade firecrackers made from black powder, playing cards, and electrical tape in the field behind the dorm. I wouldn’t know anything about that. Moving on…

One problem for the those that come to campus is the lack of food options. Usually someone sneaks on food and sells it. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe it’s better to control for that. I can see authorities seeing it as a health risk, and seeing themselves responsible for any food-related illnesses that happen on campus. That’s why they check food vendors for permits.

The influx of people certainly affects the town and the university. Busses are packed. The dining hall is packed. People don’t go to class. Random folks you’ve never seen before end up dozing in sleeping bags on your porch. It is an exciting time.

Those are all excellent points.

There it is again!

Wait, what? I have two of those three things in my house! Where can I get the third thing and how can I learn the crafting recipe?


I want to know what you are doing with the combination of black powder and electrical tape.

You also need a braided wick.

Is this in the meadow that overlooks the maid road onto campus?

The only time I was at UCSantaCruz we saw a memorial market for someone who had killed themselves: “Artist. Writer. Misanthrope.” I laughed.

Beautiful campus. We ate burritos at this small place right in the middle of the woods on campus.

Here’s what the event looks like:

Negative. Porter meadow is near the West entrance, exactly under the text “Senson Gallery” in this map:

Santa Cruz is a weird town. They are very liberal but they have a strange violent section as well that leads to some “unsafe” conditions. Probably the result of a combination college town, tourist town and backwoods homeless crowd.

This is something that in California could probably only happen in Santa Cruz.

Hmmm…so around 4:20pm then?


Santa Cruz is the bee’s knees. I would totally live there if I was a perpetual student. I didn’t even know schools like that existed when I was applying. They have a good business school, right?

Man, when I was in college we had to get stoned in dorm rooms. With towels under the doors!


Ok, grandpa. ;)

I remember there being a similar “celebration” in front of the library at UVM back when I was in school. April 20th was practically a holiday there.

That photo looks awesome, the cloud of smoke is heartwarming. London has (or had, haven’t kept up with it) a regular Legalize Cannabis march that has (or had) lots of attendees, and the police used to “give up” and smile benignly at that occasion, although you still had to be somewhat discreet (i.e. not light up right in front of their faces).