VICTORVILLE — New Year’s Day came with the freedom to consume recreational marijuana for those 21 and older, along with a tidal wave of regulations for those who host cannabis festivals.
The new law may place in jeopardy several potential marijuana-themed events, which in the past have brought piles of cannabis, live music, free samples, art and education to the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds in Victorville.
Gem Montes, the director of the Inland Empire chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said the time of “free-for-all” cannabis events at state-run fairgrounds “is over.”
“Vendors will have to be licensed, so there won’t be random people just showing up and setting up tables anymore,” Montes said. “Products will also have to be tested before they can be sold. This is going to impact the entire industry.”
Bureau of Cannabis Control spokesman Alex Traverso told the Daily Press all cannabis-themed events held at local fairgrounds or on District Agricultural Association property must first obtain authorization from the local municipality.
“The local jurisdiction must approve the authorization of the sale and consumption of cannabis for those 21 and over at the event, “Traverso said. “All vendors who sell products must also have a retail license from the state.”
Out of the 520 total cannabis licenses approved by the state, only 10 event organizer licenses have been issued, said Traverso, who could not confirm if one was issued for any events planned for the fairgrounds in Victorville.
Geoff Hinds, the CEO of the local fairgrounds, did not return messages on Friday, but Mayor Gloria Garcia told the Daily Press she’s glad the city will finally have “some control” over future cannabis-themed activities held there.
“This issue has not crossed my desk yet, but it’s good to know what we’re facing,” said Garcia, who sent the 28th Agricultural Association Board a letter in 2016 detailing the Council’s unanimous opposition to the Chalice California cannabis festival and urging the board to cancel the event at the fairgrounds.
The fairgrounds have hosted several cannabis-themed festivals over the last few years, including High Life, Happy Place, Abra Ca Dabs and Hot Box.
Fallen Faith Studio CEO Sean Jones, 34, said he’s excited to bring the first cannabis-themed festival to the High Desert under the new state law.
Jones said the first “Faded Fridays” event is scheduled from 4 p.m. to midnight on Feb. 2 at the fairgrounds. The 21-and-over “420 friendly Music & Smoke Festival” will feature live music, a beer bar, and 20 vendors that will serve visitors with “the best of the best.”
“We’ve hosted several small showcases and open mic sessions, but this is our first major event,” Jones said. “We’re expecting 600 people, but it would be nice if a thousand people showed up.”
He also said he hasn’t heard “anything negative” about his event so far, adding that it’s been “smooth sailing.” It’s unclear, however, if the Victorville City Council may raise an objection under the new law.
For more information on “Faded Fridays,” visit www.fallenfaithstudio.com or search Fallen Faith Studio on Facebook.