California is the land of plenty — plenty of festivals celebrating its natural bounty of agricultural achievements. Not only does the state have more than its share of celebrations of hops (brewfests) and grapes (wine-tasting soirees), there are entire weekends devoted to artichokes, asparagus, almonds and avocados. And that’s just the first letter of the alphabet. Cannabis? Well, it’s complicated.
But change is afoot in the Golden State. The state Assembly Appropriations Committee passed a bill in late May that would allow marijuana sales and consumption at special events held on local fairgrounds. The 13-2 vote means the bill advances to the full legislative body. AB 2641 allows the Bureau of Cannabis Control to grant temporary licenses for special events.
According to the Eureka Times-Standard, a daily newspaper in the heart of the state’s famous “Emerald Triangle” cannabis region:
Cannifest, originally set to take place at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds earlier this month, was canceled because of a “lack of policies,” according to a release from the organizers in February. The Cannifest website says the group is “manifesting” a new date for the event.
Ken Hamik, a futurist and consultant for Humboldt Green, which organizes the Cannifest events, said AB 2641 would level the playing field for small businesses.
“This bill, we are very supportive of it,” Hamik told the Times-Standard. “We believe small farmers need to have a pathway to present their brands to the market outside of Humboldt County — like a small local winery can go to events and talk about their land, their farming techniques and their product.”
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Hamik is frustrated that cannabis is treated differently from alcohol. “We’re sad that this is over-21 events,” Hamik told the paper. “We’re trying to lobby. … If you go to the game, you can buy beer but you can bring your kids.”
All legal cannabis jurisdictions struggle with the issue of public consumption. In Seattle, for example, the world-famous Hempfest has been going strong since 1991. Marijuana was illegal until 2014, but for 27 years, cannabis consumption was tolerated but not legal. Even since legalization, marijuana use is not legal during the three-day celebration of all thing cannabis.
In California, a new day may be dawning. Stay tuned.