YOLO COUNTY -- The Tree Harvest festival scheduled for the April 20 weekend at the Yolo County Fairgrounds has been canceled.
It was supposed to be a first of its kind in our area, all-things-marijuana festival. Its website promoted a speaker series on marijuana education, marijuana-infused foods and drinks, cooking demos, competitions, a farmers market where presumably local growers could sample their stuff, art exhibits and entertainment.
Organizers say they've been planning it for nearly three years, and had established contracts with more than a dozen vendors, and received the proper state licenses. They got approval from Yolo County Fairgrounds.
"Everything looked really good, we were given permission to promote," organizer John Javidan said.
However, the Yolo County Fairgrounds is within the jurisdiction of the Yolo County Sheriff's Office. Sheriff Ed Prieto says he never gave anyone permission to have the festival.
Prieto's main concerns, which he says were shared by Woodland Police are:
- Yolo County and the City of Woodland largely ban commercial cannabis activity, with a few exceptions in the unincorporated parts of the county. Sheriff Prieto says signing off on the festival would violate local ordinances.
- Concerns about people using and driving. Though events where alcohol is allowed happen in the county, the sheriff says it's much more difficult to measure the effects of cannabis use than it is for alcohol use.
Javidan says the objections were raised fairly late in the process, so he and fellow organizers didn't have much time to adjust.
"It came up so late, we didn't really have an opportunity to work with them and try to come up with a solution in time," Javidan said. "We have to turn our application into the bureau [of cannabis control] within 60 days of the event. That was yesterday."
The sheriff's objections officially came on Jan. 29. Javidan says he didn't want to cancel the event until now, hoping within the last month they could have come up with an agreement.
"Events like these are subject to local control. The Bureau can issue special event licenses, but the event organizers must get sign off from their local jurisdiction," Bureau of Cannabis Control spokesman Alex Traverso said.