This Saturday is April 20, or 4/20, a date co-opted by marijuana enthusiasts everywhere for smoking weed. Also on Saturday, Sacramento will be the site of the second local Cannabis Cup festival, hosted by High Times magazine at Cal Expo.
Even though the event is advertised as a place to hang out, relax and smoke pot, it is actually is heavily regulated by the city.
Joe Devlin, the chief of cannabis policy and enforcement for the city, says his office began inspection of the event on Thursday, including making vendors fill out information, collecting business tax certifications, and educating people about what they can and cannot do during the festival.
“And then, the day of and during the events, we are monitoring and inspecting their booths and ultimately tracking their sales," Devlin added.
As for what vendors can and cannot do: They can sell marijuana, but not alcohol. Only adults over age 21 can attend. There’s no handing out free samples, and businesses cannot manufacture marijuana products during the festival.
“We saw some of that last year, with people using heat presses to extract cannabis resin,” Devlin explained.
The second-annual High Times event has been been months in the making. It was originally scheduled for October, but, City Council members were not pleased with organizers after they twice failed to apply for permits on time. The first instance, Council allowed the event last April, but not the second time.
The festival takes place in Councilman Jeff Harris’ district. "The last event I would say did not go off without a hitch,” he said during a Council meeting earlier this year. High Times had already begun advertising the October event before it had acquired the proper permits.
"They were not exactly transparent about some of their methods in terms of advertising the event," Harris said.
At the meeting, the Council turned over approval of cannabis events to the city manager. Harris argued at the time that Council members should be able to deny such events in their districts, but he didn’t know if that was feasible.