California Cannabis Festivals Face Uncertain Future

Many marijuana-themed events are held each year at San Bernardino’s National Orange Show Center in California. But one sentence, buried in 276 pages of new cannabis industry regulations, may make the future of these events uncertain.

The new rules do offer a route for cannabis festivals to continue, unlike regulations passed in other states. Beginning the first of 2018, festival organizers will be eligible for permits with a slew of conditions that will allow them to host events where marijuana can legally be sold and consumed, but will be more like wine or craft beer festivals, but with cannabis, rather than a free-for-all event. It’s also restricted to the 80 county fair of district agricultural association properties.

What may pose the most difficult challenge for festival organizers is a single sentence that requires an operator to get written permission from the city where their event will be held.

“For each event they do, they have to have local authorization,” Lori Ajax, chief of the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control, said.

The new rules for cannabis events in California will lead to major changes for future festivals, even before considering the challenge of obtaining local permission.

Festival-goers will still be allowed to purchase and consume cannabis at permitted events, and medical marijuana patients will still be able to get free samples of products. No one will need a doctor’s recommendation to attend, but they’ll have to be at least 21.

Also, all vendors selling cannabis products must be licensed by the state, and they’ll only be allowed to sell up to an ounce of cannabis per person. All products will have to be lab-tested and come packaged for individual sale, with clear labels listing ingredients and how much THC — the compound in cannabis that makes people high — is in inside.

Festivals will be limited to four-day maximum, with no alcohol or tobacco consumption permitted.

Organizers will have to pay $5,000 a year for an annual license if they want to host up to 10 events. If they want to host more than 10 events in one year, it’ll cost $10,000. Organizers will also have to disclose company financial and ownership information, including past criminal convictions.

Along with the annual license, organizers will also need to apply for a temporary state permit for each event they host. These applications will cost $1,000 each and will require detailed diagrams of each venue, including a complete list of all licensed vendors, with no additions allowed within five days of the event.

Even if an organizer follows those rules, their application to host an event will be turned down if they don’t have an OK from the local city council or, if the event is in an unincorporated area, the county board of supervisors.

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