California’s Chalice Festival is easily one of the largest glass, hash, music and art festivals in the United States. And in exactly four weeks, the 5th annual Chalice Festival will kick off at the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds in Victorville. Last year, Chalice drew over 35,000 thousand attendees, and event organizers expected to surpass 45,000 this year.
California, of course, is no stranger to hosting massive cannabis-themed events. But adult-use legalization has had the paradoxical effect of making it harder for events like Chalice to take place. Now at the mercy of local authorities, Chalice organizers have to convince Victorville officials to give them the green light. So far, however, Victorville is refusing to permit weed at this year’s Chalice.
Cannabis-Themed Events Face Resistance From Local Officials
The Chalice Festival will run from July 13 through July 15. In addition to a wide variety of food, beverage and of course cannabis vendors, event-goers will be treated to headline performances from iconic artists, including Ludacris, Sizzla, The Pharcyde, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
What’s less clear, however, is whether Chalice attendees will be able to buy and publicly consume cannabis at the event.
When events like these were strictly unofficial, they more or less simply took place. Venue organizers were in charge of regulating the goings on. And local city councils really didn’t have much of a say in the matter.
But now that cannabis is fully legal in California for adults 21 and over, cannabis events have to comply with a slew of new rules.
In the first place, California law mandates that any “temporary cannabis event” take place only at publicly-owned venues—county fairgrounds and agricultural districts, specifically. Secondly, any vendors interested in participating in a cannabis event must carry the proper licenses to sell and distribute weed. On top of that, the event itself must receive a license from California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control.
But before the BCC can issue a license, the cannabis event must secure approval from the municipal government of the hosting city. In other words, refusal from local officials can prevent the BCC from licensing cannabis sales and consumption at the event.
And that’s exactly the obstacle facing this year’s Chalice Festival. The hosting city, Victorville, is so far refusing to give the massive hash bash their blessing.
This Isn’t Victorville’s First Stand-Off With Cannabis Event Organizers
California’s adult-use cannabis law, Proposition 64, gives individual municipalities the power to restrict or outright ban commercial cannabis operations within their limits. And Victorville opted to ban all commercial cannabis activity with the exception of medical cannabis deliveries. Furthermore, the city has “strictly prohibited” temporary cannabis events, according to city spokesperson Sue Jones.
This isn’t the first time Victorville has refused to permit a cannabis event, either. City officials were against Chalice when it came to town for the first time in 2016. But the City Council could only write a letter to the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds board of directors asking them not to host the event. The board refused that request, citing the economic benefits of festivals like Chalice.
“We have a unanimous consensus among our board members that Chalice California, and similar events, while they may possibly run counter to our individual personal moral compass, are safe, well run, professionally produced events that provide a substantial impact to both the Fairgrounds, and our local economy,” the board wrote in reply.
Now that cannabis is legal for adult use, however, Victorville’s City Council has way more say over the fate of events like Chalice than before. And this year, it seems they want to dig in their heels.
High Times Sets Historic Firsts For Licensed and Regulated Cannabis Events
Citing the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s own rules and regulations regarding temporary cannabis events, Chalice Festival founder Doug Dracup insists the event will take place in Victorville, offer cannabis and allow public consumption.
If Chalice is ultimately able to get a license from the BCC, it will become the third fully licensed cannabis event to take place in California this season. But it will be the first to land approval in Southern California.
The award for first-ever cannabis event license goes to High Times, for their Central Valley Cannabis Cup. High Times was able to secure BCC licenses for its early May event at the Cal Expo fairground in Sacramento.
Earlier this month, High Times made history again when it received local and BCC approval for its NorCal Cannabis Cup. That festival took place at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa.
Technically, state law requires temporary cannabis events to obtain local approval a full 60 days in advance of the event. Neither of High Times’ two events managed to do so. But recognizing the work High Times organizers were doing to comply with the new regulations, the BCC bent the rules twice. And that allowed organizers to get approval just days before the events began.
The Fate of the Chalice Festival Could Be Decided At The Last Minute
It’s likely the BCC will be willing to bend the rules for Chalice just as they did for HighTimes. Especially if local approval comes through prior to July 13.
Failure to obtain the proper approval and requirements hasn’t halted events like these in the past. But it has put a damper on them.
Just 48 hours prior to the start of High Times’ SoCal Cannabis Cup in San Bernardino, for example, city officials announced they would not OK cannabis consumption and sales.
The SoCal Cup happened anyway. And attendees and vendors said it went down much like it had in previous years. But worries about possible repercussions should regulators crack down on the event deterred hundreds of vendors and thousands of attendees.