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Fate uncertain for Chalice cannabis festival after Victorville denies approval

The Chalice Festival kicked off at the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds on Friday, July, 7, 2017 in Victorville, Ca, The festival, which celebrates cannabis culture, featured glass blowers, live art, musicians and a cannabis competition. The festival lasts through out the weekend. (Photos by Sarah Alvarado for The Sun/SCNG)

The fate of the massive Chalice California festival is uncertain after Victorville city officials have so far refused to sign off on letting attendees buy and smoke marijuana at the event, illustrating questions about the future mix of publicly-owned venues and cannabis events.

The three-day Chalice festival, scheduled July 13 through 15, is expected to draw some 45,000 people to Victorville’s San Bernardino County Fairgrounds. Music headliners include Bassnectar, Ludacris and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.

Organizers are selling tickets while touting that, under California’s new marijuana laws, anyone 21 and older can buy and consume weed without a doctor’s recommendation.

But so far — repeating a stand-off that took place in April between organizers of High Times magazine’s Cannabis Cup festival and the San Bernardino City Council — Victorville officials have refused multiple requests for written permission to let the Chalice take place. That means Chalice organizers also can’t get what would be the first state permit for a cannabis event at a public venue in Southern California.

“The locals denied them, therefore the Bureau cannot license them,” said Alex Traverso, spokesman for the Bureau of Cannabis Control, referencing the state’s policy of refusing to issue permits for cannabis-related events or businesses that have been rejected by local authorities.

Fairground staff hasn’t given up. They told Victorville council members that last year’s event brought $34 million to the high desert economy with zero public safety incidents. But the clock is ticking on this year’s festival, and organizers didn’t respond to multiple requests to discuss what will happen if the city doesn’t change its mind over the next four weeks.

And so the question remains: Will any Southern California city open the door for legal cannabis events?

New rules, new obstacle

Cannabis festivals thrived in Southern California when recreational cannabis was prohibited. But that’s changed this year, as the law that allows the recreational use of cannabis for California adults has brought with it a slew of new rules for organizers of weed-themed festivals.

One of those new rules is that temporary cannabis events – which are now only legal at county fairgrounds and agricultural districts – must get written permission from city leaders if they want to allow consumption and sales.

Previously, cannabis-oriented events were regulated by venue owners. That meant Victorville’s High Desert Event Center, at the state-owned San Bernardino County Fairgrounds, was able to play host to a number of cannabis-themed festivals each year despite opposition from the local city council.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Brook Staggs on OC Register / SB Sun

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Published: June 15, 2018

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