Ice Cube to headline first licensed Cannabis Cup marijuana festival in Southern California
High Times magazine gets OK to bring event back to San Bernardino.
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Ice Cube is set to headline High Times Cannabis Cup SoCal 2019, which the magazine is billing as a “triumphant return” of its iconic cannabis festival to Southern California.
Last year’s Cannabis Cup almost didn’t happen, after organizers failed to land permits that were newly required in 2018 for all California events with marijuana consumption and sales. The confusion led to a steep drop in attendance from previous years, as vendors bailed and critics took to social media to blast the chaos.
That also turned out to be the norm. Not a single sanctioned cannabis event was held in Southern California last year, as festival organizers struggled to navigate the newly legal cannabis scene.
But High Times has already secured a permit from the city for this year’s festival, which is coming to National Orange Show Events Center on Memorial Day weekend, according to San Bernardino officials. And a state permit is in the works, paving the way for adults to legally buy and smoke marijuana during the two-day show.
“I’m happy to say that the promoters of this event have gone above and beyond to ensure compliance,” Mayor John Valdivia said via email. “We look forward to a safe and successful event.”
High Times magazine launched its Cannabis Cup circuit 30 years ago in its counterculture heyday. The festivals thrived during the era of California’s gray medical marijuana, with thousands of people flooding NOS Events Center and other venues a few times a year to listen to music and smoke weed.
The events were always dubiously legal, though, with organizers finding protection in medical marijuana laws by forcing attendees to get doctor’s recommendations for cannabis as they entered the gates.
California law that took effect Jan. 1, 2018 legalized recreational cannabis, and said cannabis festivals could let anyone 21 and older buy and smoke weed. But the law also required festival organizers to get permission from state and local agencies.
That turned out to be a problem for Cannabis Cup. Less than 48 hours before the 2018 event was scheduled to start, the San Bernardino City Council voted not to issue a permit for the event, setting off rumors that the event was canceled or would be weed-free.
High Times insisted via social media that the show would go on, but that no cannabis sales would take place. The company encouraged attendees to to “bring their own.” But the last-minute controversy kept people away, with festival tickets offered for sale online eventually sold for steep discounts or not at all. As a result, publicly traded High Times reported that it lost $1.2 million on a 12 percent decline in revenue during the first half of 2018.
The Los Angeles-based company adapted. It agreed to file detailed site plans, pay thousands of dollars in licensing fees and submit to strict state and local regulations – such as blocking alcohol sales and only allowing state-licensed vendors. All was done with an eye toward hosting future events in California.
The company’s leadership also made campaign contributions to local elected officials, including $10,000 in August from High Times CEO Adam Levin to Valdivia’s ultimately successful campaign for mayor.
High Times landed the first state permit for a festival in Southern California earlier this year. In March, it promoted the High Times Dope Cup High Desert in Adelanto. And the company recently landed a permit from San Bernardino for Cannabis Cup.
It’s not clear what the rules will be on buying cannabis. An event website doesn’t yet say whether marijuana will be sold during the festival, and under frequently asked questions the organizers tell prospective guests to bring their “personal stash” of up to an ounce of marijuana.
But High Times is also promising “more weed, more vendors” and more music acts to be announced soon.
Guests must be 21 years and older to attend the festival, slated for May 25 to 26.
Ice Cube to headline first licensed Cannabis Cup marijuana festival in Southern California High Times magazine gets OK to bring event back to San Bernardino. Share this: Click to share