Cannabis Cup Approved for Sacramento Amid Concerns

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SACRAMENTO -- The City of Sacramento is at a crossroads.

"It's the end of a prohibition and the beginning of an industry and that's all this is," said Jason Smith, cannabis broker from Herba Distribution.

Some see that as the crossroads where California's capital city finds itself after the approval of its first official adult outdoor use pot event. Smith and others in the industry are breathing a sigh of relief for the recreational movement and for bottom lines already extended.

"It's very expensive boothing at these events," he said. "Like $12,000 for a 20 by 20. But there's hotels, there's traveling expenses, there's purchasing of inventory."

With a 6-2 vote, part of Cal Expo will have a much different feel Friday and Saturday now that the first Cannabis Cup concert has cleared the permitting hurdles that seemed on track to uproot the pot concert as late as Monday.

Jeff Harris, the councilman for the district covering Cal Expo, feels the city's regulation stance is just not mature enough. Even for a one-time, "buy here, smoke here" pilot program that could bring $200,000 worth of tax revenue to Sacramento.

City dispensaries can't sell off-site, so they can't legally set up shop at Cal Expo.

Another issue?

"If you go into this event and you purchase product from several vendors you could have more than an ounce on the way out. That creates an unlawful situation," Harris said.

Organizers did agree to a punch bracelet for buyers so they aren't walking back out onto city streets with more than the legal limit.

They also pledged to put $140,000 into city economic development with efforts like the Build. Black. Coalition, which was newly-formed in the wake of the police killing of Stephon Clark.

"I think we thought we were gonna have the approvals and had sought the right approval process. Unfortunately, we came up in error" said Adam Levin, CEO of the event organizer High Times.

Levin and local coordinators tried to explain away why the city just became aware of the planned concert in the last two weeks, when it's been in the works for at least four months. It's a situation that's left Sacramento scrambling to work out its response.

"There was no desire for lack of compliance," said Jason Kinney, a local consultant for High Times. "In every jurisdiction, this organizer has had local compliance and local support. The public safety record of the events they've had significantly exceed traditional wine and beer, traditional music festivals."

They were answers that were just not good enough for council members Harris and Ashby but were fine for the majority.

So now, Lauryn Hill, Lil Wayne and Ludacris will be able to play for an expected crowd of 15,000 that could be as high on marijuana as they are on the music.

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