In a move that highlights the power of local governments over the California marijuana industry, the San Bernardino City Council shot down the planned 4/20-centric High Times Cannabis Cup by refusing to license this weekend’s event.
The council vote, held less than two days before the biggest cannabis holiday of the year, April 20, has thrown the enormous festival into uncertainty, with questions swirling about whether tickets may be refunded, NBC News reported.
Without a local permit, the Cannabis Cup cannot legally include sales or consumption of marijuana, despite having the blessing of the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC).
The head of the BCC wrote to the San Bernardino City Council the agency would sign off on the event’s state license if the city issued a permit.
The city’s rejection underscores that licensed commercial marijuana activity in California is dependent on local government approval.
A High Times spokesman wrote in an email to Marijuana Business Daily that “the event is still on,” despite the council’s “deeply regrettable” decision.
The company did not respond to questions about whether tickets may be refunded or how the change could affect festival sponsors, but emphasized that “The Cannabis Cup will proceed this weekend.”
But NBC reported that a company spokesperson said refunds may be necessary.
Ticket prices range from $60-$420, and an estimated 20,000 attendees are expected for the three-day festival, which is slated for the National Orange Show Events Center.
The musical performances – including hip-hop artists such as Nas and Lil Wayne – will still be held, according to High Times’ statement.
The lack of MJ sales and consumption at the event could also mean a hit for the event’s sponsors, which include more than 30 cannabis-related businesses.
The Cannabis Cup has recently run into problems finding local governments willing to authorize marijuana-friendly festivals:
- In 2017, the event encountered legal obstacles when it was planned for Native American land near Las Vegas.
- In 2016, the event was moved from the Denver area after High Times couldn’t find a legal home.