Daren Grant biked to the Bloom Room dispensary in San Francisco on Monday to pick up some "Big Kahuna." Instead, he walked out with two grams of "Carolina Cam Crush" and "Bronco Mile High."
Grant, 31, a waiter, considered what to do with his weed during the Feb. 7 football championship. Maybe every time a team scored, he said, he could take a bong hit of the corresponding strain. "I would definitely give it a toke," he said.
The San Francisco Bay area is the first region to host a Super Bowl in a state where marijuana is readily available, though technically only legal for medical purposes. And like other businesses, local pot shops are offering promotions aimed at the throngs of visitors in town for the festivities.
San Francisco's marijuana shops closest to fan events in the city's tech-heavy South of Market neighborhood are handing out coupons for free joints, offering discounts and renaming strains after the two teams set to face off in Super Bowl 50 -- the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. But out-of-towners are out of luck. Only California residents who have a medical- marijuana card can buy pot at the dispensaries, which operate as non-profits.
Colorado, home of the Broncos, is one of four states that's legalized recreational marijuana, and pot has legally been sold there since 2014. Two years ago, when the Broncos played the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl in New Jersey, the game was dubbed the "Stoner Bowl" since both came from states where recreational-pot use is legal.
Pot smoking in Denver has become as much a part of the tailgating experience as beer and burgers, and buying weed is as common as a trip to the grocery store. Games draw a rush of customers to the Mile High Green Cross recreational marijuana shop, located three miles from Denver's football stadium, owner Adam Ziegler said.
"It's a healthy alternative to drinking," Ziegler, 38, said by telephone.
In San Francisco, Stephen Rechif, 29, manager of the Bloom Room, said he planned to send an employee to Super Bowl City, the fan village at the base of Market Street in the city's Financial District, to hand out black-and-red coupons for a free pre-rolled joint and lighter. His dispensary, located a few blocks from the headquarters of Twitter Inc., Yelp Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc., features shelves lined with glass jars of marijuana plants and pot-infused foods, including bon-bons and chocolate truffles. The top-shelf Carolina and Bronco strains run $20 a gram.
The Green Door dispensary, a half block from where fans can snap photos with football stars, is running a Super Bowl 50 special on their Blackjack, Blue Dream and Krazy Glue strains, reducing the price to $35 for an eighth of an ounce. The dispensary has a smoking lounge upstairs, where patrons puff on bongs and joints as three flat-screen televisions are tuned into ESPN and Comcast SportsNet. A clock on the wall is set to 4:20, a pot-culture term noting the time to light up.
"Super Bowl is always a good week for us," Adam Rogers, 34, the shop's manager, said in an interview in his office, where large, clear bags of weed sat near his desk.
California has a longstanding history with marijuana, becoming the first U.S. state to legalize its medical use in 1996. Twenty-two states have followed, and since 2012, voters in Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon have legalized its recreational use.
California voters may follow suit when they consider a legalization measure in the November election. If approved, California and its local governments could reap more than $1 billion in annual revenue from the sale of recreational marijuana, according to a December report by the state's Legislative Analyst's Office.
The Super Bowl festivities are cutting into sales at some dispensaries as regular customers who work downtown are staying home this week to avoid large crowds and road closures.
"It's hurt business," said Jesse Smith, 29, manager at Igzactly 420, located next door to the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, a non-profit group that trains and connects aspiring technology entrepreneurs. "People are turned off by the amount of traffic and the lack of parking."