SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Cannabis Cup SoCal, the iconic 4/20 celebration hosted by High Times, has reclaimed its celebrated cornerstone after ironing out a misunderstanding with the City of San Bernardino.
According to attorney Chris Hickok of Shevin Law Group, state law and recent regulatory changes created a sort of “gray area” in which Proposition 215 events like the Cannabis Cup are protected through January 2019. Because the Cup allows vendors to provide medicine only to qualified patients, not recreational users, it is not the sort of “commercial activity” requiring extra scrutiny. The city council, Hickok said, denied High Times’s permit request out of an overabundance of caution after receiving a memo about adult use at 4/20 events from the state days earlier.
In essence, Hickok told mg Magazine, “the city was afraid of doing something wrong.”
On Friday, Hickok ironed out the wrinkles by meeting with city and law enforcement officials to explain “what’s legal cannabis activity and what’s not legal cannabis activity,” he said. The meeting was cordial. By the time the event opened, cannabis was back on the menu in the “Prop. 215 area,” just as it was last year. In fact, the Cannabis Cup SoCal is operating in 2018 just as it did in 2017.
Hickok attended opening night, which he admitted seemed to have suffered a little from the controversy that erupted upon the city’s permit denial.
“Some areas were empty; display tents were empty,” he said. “Some of the bigger brands probably didn’t want to play in the gray area and just stayed away.”
However, he noted, companies that didn’t participate on Friday may well have arrived Saturday morning.
“Fridays are often slow,” he said. “People have to work, and San Bernardino is a bit of a drive from [Los Angeles].”
Bottom line, though: “It’s definitely a cannabis event,” Hickok said. “People are definitely smoking. The music’s better than ever. That was a great concert [Friday] night.”
He also said San Bernardino police officers are on-site and have been laid-back and very friendly, despite the city’s earlier threat to shut down the event if even one attendee lit up.
“This is not only a victory for High Times; it’s a considerable achievement for the industry at large,” said Darren Roberts, CEO of CANN Media Group, a leading business-to-business media firm specializing in the cannabis sector.
The Cannabis Cup SoCal runs through Sunday at the National Orange Show Fairgrounds.
mg’s previous coverage of the issues surrounding this year’s event is here.