California’s biggest 4/20 event was denied a marijuana permit

2017: simpler times.
2017: simpler times.
Image: AP Photo/Richard Vogel
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In California, it’s no ordinary Friday. Today marks the first April 20—a one-day stoners’ pride parade also known as 4/20—since the state legalized recreational marijuana.

The epicenter of celebration should arguably be this weekend’s High Times Cannabis Cup SoCal: a three-day festival and trade show in San Bernardino, where an estimated 20,000 people are expecting to enjoy performances by rappers that include Nas, Lil Wayne, and 2 Chainz; a slew of munchie-satisfying food trucks; a petting zoo stocked with baby goats; a ferris wheel; and, most important, a whole lot of cannabis in the form of edibles, topicals, flowers, concentrates, and more.

The Cannabis Cup isn’t just a carnival. It’s an award, sort of like a cross between an Oscar and the stoner’s Good Housekeeping Seal. After judges spend a week evaluating the aesthetics, aroma, taste, burnability, and overall effect of competing strains of cannabis, they announce winners at the Cup, where, presumably, everyone can try them out.

Except on Wednesday (April 18), the San Bernardino City Council slapped High Times with what can only be classified as an epic buzzkill: The Cannabis Cup was denied a cannabis permit. The California Board of Cannabis Control requires local governments to approve events two months in advance, but San Bernardino, according to the Washington Post, didn’t even have a system to issue permits until earlier this month. In other words, California’s legalization of recreational cannabis has made it more difficult for High Times to legally hold the Cannabis Cup.

It’s not the first time bureaucratic challenges came up this week. At a “Dawn of Cannabis” summit held at the Los Angeles headquarters of delivery service Eaze on Wednesday, regulators, dispensary owners, delivery drivers, and other stakeholders lamented the raise in taxes since Jan. 1, and acknowledged California’s long road ahead.

“We have a lot of catching up to do,” Cat Packer, head of LA’s newly formed Department of Cannabis Regulation, said. “There will be some times when there are these blurred lines between what’s a regulatory fix and what’s a legislative fix.”

The organizers of the Cannabis Cup say the show will go on this weekend, and its FAQ page still encourages guests to bring their own bud. It makes no specific mention of how cannabis sale or consumption will be handled. (High Times representatives haven’t responded to a specific question about that. We’ll update this post if they do.)

“As organizers, we will emphasize to vendors the continuing need to respect current laws and codes,” High Times’ head of events, Brian Rucker, said in a statement. “This event is about much more than buying and selling marijuana. It celebrates the people, music, and medicine that heal so many, who are part of a culture that unites millions. The movement will not be stopped.”