Sesh Life: The Rise of California’s Underground Dab Scene

Over the past few years, many of the greatest advancements in cannabis came from capitols and capital — state legislators and new companies innovating with more legal freedom than ever. But when it comes to the pursuit of a stoney social occasion, nothing has taken off quite like the sesh scene.

The phenomenon of the “sesh” has become a major current in cannabis culture, especially in California.


Over the past few years, many of the greatest advancements in cannabis came from capitols and capital — state legislators and new companies innovating with more legal freedom than ever before. But when it comes to the pursuit of a stoney social occasion, nothing has taken off quite like the sesh scene.

For years people had been attending the big one-off events every year: cannabis cups and hempcons were all the rage. But even within that head culture, hash oil still has its detractors. Then big events came about to service that glob community, starting with The Secret Cup and followed by Chalice — now the world’s largest glass art and hash festival.

We reached out to Secret Cup founder, Daniel de Salles, to talk about the transition from annual one-off events to the now weekly — almost daily — dab-oriented events happening on the west coast.

He said that the Secret Cup originally started as a three-pronged event: the peer reviewed competition, the floor expo (where heads could meet the extractors providing their terps) and a separate networking event.

Back in the day, de Salles hired Adam Ill — now a cannabis media personality and regular host of the Los Angeles-based Secret Sesh — to host the event portion of the cup.

De Salles says Secret Sesh started as a splinter off of the Secret Cup.

“We have always been pissed they went with the secret name,” he said. “They took one part of our event and made it better. What they did differently was cheaper booth prices with gift bag donations.”

They also made it a weekly event, and in proving it could be done, Adam Ill made waves. But soon he would experience a rift of his own: just as the Secret Sesh broke away from The Secret Cup, other events were ultimately spawned from the Secret Sesh — for the same reasons.

The first wave started with a few disillusioned vendors. Soon folks realized that the formula for a successful event wasn’t advanced calculus, but the quality of the results didn’t always add up.

But de Salles said the Secret Cup is still thriving, with up to six events on some weeks. He said he enjoys giving expanded access to savvier cannabis consumer: extractors are able to sell directly to some of their most appreciative customers, and much of the time, both the patients and extractors came out ahead compared to a transaction through a dispensary storefront.

Dan helped start Meet Art Sesh, a private bay area sesh making waves since it’s genesis in late 2016. Their combination of high-end extract companies, glass blowers, live painting and often BBQ has been a hit and has bounced back and forth to different locations across the bay.

“Me personally, I’m a big sesh guy. I love to mingle and hang out,” Dan said. “I started going to The Secret Sesh and loved the cool vibe and giveaways.”

When The Secret Sesh disappeared from NorCal, Dan wasn’t satisfied with the replacements that popped up in its stead and Meet Art Sesh was born.

“People need somewhere to go just like a bar, but obviously something much different,” Dan said, echoing de Salles’ gloomy forecast in light of forthcoming regulatory framework. “Down the line it’s going to be a lot different.”

Vendors, like Ted from Alien Labs, also appreciate the close knits vibe of the communities taking part in the sesh scene.

“Chalice is something special; people come from all over the world and you get to expose your brand to an huge number of people,” Ted said. “But If you’re in Sac and you go to a Sac sesh, you’re probably already buying my stuff from your local club.”

Ted said this local flare tended to creates intimates experiences.

“I’ve met a lot of people at a sesh who were patients of ours through one of the dispensaries we’ve worked with,” he said. “They ended up becoming good friends.”

The worst part of the scene according to Ted? The tolerance for inferior BHO.

“Not everything there should be sold,” he said. “There is definitely some poop-soup BHO.”

He said there are a lot of events these days — he called the number “crazy” — but the experience of being able to serve his clientele directly quickly wiped any hesitation or exhaustion from his voice. “They get super passionate about it and it’s amazing to hear.”

It all sounds fantastic, and it is a great time, but don’t get use to it.

“There isn’t going to be anymore after 2018 — they’re gone forever,” de Salles said. “What we’re experiencing right now is something really special.”

He believes California is going to allow for social use consumption permits down the road, but as far as the sesh scene or farmers markets, “the distribution system will be fatal to them; they’ll disappear from California, just like they have from other states.”

TELL US, have you been to a sesh? What’s your favorite?

Jimi Devine has been involved in the cannabis movement since 2005, and joined the industry full time in 2009 after moving to the Bay Area from Boston. He currently works with Smell the Truth on SFGate,The Hash Podcast, and was involved in the organization of New West Summit in San Francisco last Fall. His writings on cannabis products and policy have been seen in The Boston Globe, SFGate, The Hill, The Chronicle of Higher Education, StopTheDrugWar.org, and HailMaryJane.com.

1 Comment

  1. Melodye Montgomery

    April 19, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    My favorite seshes in Oakland area are Meet-Art-Sesh, Cloud sesh, and Weed4Warriors Oakland, which gives free meds to Vets!

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