Every year on April 20, thousands gather in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to hold a festival celebrating marijuana. San Francisco mayoral candidate Ellen Lee Zhou has expressed her firm stance against this festival.
“This event is a violation of [the] Constitution,” Zhou said. “It’s a violation of people’s peace and people’s health.”
As a social worker, Zhou said she has received complaints from many residents of San Francisco.
Now that recreational marijuana has become legal in San Francisco, more than 19,000 people attended the event, which included food trucks and music acts as the smell of marijuana hovered in the air.
Although cannabis is legal in California now, selling it at the festival was prohibited. However, that didn’t stop people from selling it in the park.
In 2018, some people consumed marijuana edibles that had been laced with fentanyl—a synthetic opioid—and had to be sent to the hospital to be treated with Narcan.
Zhou said that this event is not healthy, especially for families and children.
“The 4/20 event in Golden Gate Park destroys family values and gives the wrong message to children and youth,” she said.
According to Zhou, many people have misconceptions about the marijuana law and the restrictions surrounding the legality of the drug.
“It’s for people who are sick, but it has to be indoors at home. Golden Gate Park is not indoors, and it is not at home, so it is illegal,” she said.
She also said that taking marijuana is one of the reasons homeless people die on the street.
“I work in downtown SF; I work with public health. Every morning, I pass by homeless people,” she said.
Zhou believes that more than 400 people died on the streets in the past two years according to the public health department. She said that the main causes are overdoses of illegal drugs, sickness, cold, and hunger.
She explained the correlation between consuming cannabis and their health conditions.
“Sixty percent of the homeless people have substance abuse. A lot of them start with cannabis,” she said.
Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs, according to the World Health Organization.
Zhou is fighting against the cannabis industry in the city and she is especially opposed to having cannabis stores near schools, preschools, and day care centers.
She is worried about the future situation of cannabis stores in San Francisco.
“Approximately two months ago, I went to the cannabis office in City Hall. Approximately 50 stores [were] in operation, and there are only 11 districts in San Francisco,” she said. “They have more than 300 applications on permits waiting; they have more than 400 applications and 300 permits pending, which means there will be more and more cannabis stores.”
She said she will keep fighting against it and protecting children.
“I went to the office and [told] the officer, ‘Every time you open one next to the kids, you do not respect the kids and children, I will call the federal government, and I will complain and have you guys bust it,’ because it is illegal,” she said.
As an employee of the government, Zhou said she is very disappointed that the city officials know the laws but are not enforcing them.
“They purposefully open it in the corner next to [a] preschool, next to [a] day care. They wouldn’t care. The law says it’s illegal!” she said.
She said that no matter what, she will continue to fight for the rights of children.
“San Francisco is out of control, is sick and demonic,” she said.
In order to protect children, she suggested that parents educate their children and ask them to stay away from strange food, because now there is food and drink with cannabis in it.
“Call the police, call the federal government, make reports, complain to their supervisors. We have 11 districts, and each district has a supervisor. Complain to the mayor’s office,” she said.
She also suggested that residents use their phones to take pictures or videos when people are using marijuana outside.
“You cannot smoke [marijuana] everywhere, like next to the kids and in large quantity,” she said.
Zhou said there are many things the government chooses not to enforce.
“If they like it, they won’t care. If they don’t like it, then they will do something. Me, as a government employee, I am absolutely opposing it. What we’re seeing, what we’re experiencing, it’s just killing our quality of life,” she said.