Navigating the sesh scene

Members-only cannabis sessions retreat under City Hall scrutiny

Growers and fellow collective members meet up at an 1130 Club sesh.

Growers and fellow collective members meet up at an 1130 Club sesh.

Photo by Ken Magri

On a windy Thursday evening, medical cannabis patients quietly slip through a side gate into an ordinary residential backyard. After showing identification and a doctor’s recommendation, they enter a partylike gathering of friends, food, music and cannabis growers.

It’s called a “sesh.” For a few hours each week, private cannabis events bring small local growers together with fellow collective members who can sample and acquire their products. Driven by medical patients’ need to save on recreational era prices, the sesh phenomenon started in Southern California, and has spread to the Bay Area and across the Central Valley.

“DM your ID & Rec for the addy,” reads an Instagram post for a Saturday night sesh. It takes some work to find local events like the Orbit Show or the 1130 Club, because they may be illegal.

Sesh organizers rely on Proposition 215 and Senate Bill 420 compliance laws, arguing their collectives are nonprofit, medical only and the growers are also members.

“Everyone here is a patient,” explained 1130 Club organizer Cavin Cunningham at a recent get-together.

He described the transactions as “patient-to-patient donations,” and said the sessions are allowed through his Terpy Fresh nonprofit collective, under California Health and Safety Code section 11362.775.

In April, the Bureau of Cannabis Control tried to clarify, stating, “Nothing in section 11362.775 expressly authorizes ’collectives’ or ’cooperatives’ to participate in cannabis events, commonly known as ’Proposition 215 events.’ But neither does that section prohibit them.”

Sacramento views sesh events as illegal “farmers markets.”

In early May, the city attorney filed a civil complaint against Cunningham and partner Will Hennessee, alleging that cannabis was purchased and consumed “on-site,” without permits. A temporary restraining order prevents future events at their 26th Street location. The two have created a GoFundMe page, “Save the 1130 Club,” to retain a lawyer and fight the city’s complaint. “We’re doing this for the patients,” said Hennessee. “They need a place to go.”

Meanwhile, the larger Orbit Show moved its sesh to a rural location outside the county. With security, open air and no neighbors, “the local authorities are OK with us,” said organizer Jose Agacio.