The organization behind cannabis events such as Cannifest and the Yes We Cann! Parade and Hulabaloo have hit local regulatory roadblocks in trying to organize Cannifest 2018 so they are considering taking the show on the road.
Stephen Gieder, executive director of Humboldt Green — a cannabis consulting and business service organization — said he wants to put on a family-friendly celebration of cannabis and local marijuana culture where adults can consume cannabis products, but local regulations won’t allow for that type of event at fairgrounds — the only places cannabis events can take place.
“The fairgrounds themselves are the obstacles. Both fairgrounds are unwilling to hold cannabis events this year due to some of these policies,” he said.
An updated county cannabis ordinance that took effect this month authorizes the use of the county fairgrounds in Ferndale for events that include cannabis sales to and consumption by people 21 years of age or older. These events would be subject to the approval of the Humboldt County Fair Association and city of Ferndale.
“It would need to be 21 and over, it’s kind of like going into a bar,” Humboldt County Planning and Building Director John Ford said.
But a Ferndale law and terms in the fairgrounds lease agreement make Cannifest at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds an impossibility for now, fair general manager Richard Conway said.
“It’s a no smoking facility per our lease with the county and the second piece of that is there’s a city ordinance about anything cannabis related within 1,000 feet of a school and we actually share a property line with a school,” he said.
On top of that, the fair leases the infield of the race track to the high school for use by its track, baseball and softball teams, Conway said. When asked, he said the fair association hasn’t taken a stance for or against marijuana or cannabis events.
So that leaves Redwood Acres Fairgrounds in Eureka where Cannifest 2017 took place.
“Since we held the first one we’ve kind of grown into a business incubator,” Redwood Acres CEO Cindy Bedingfield said.
She said the fairgrounds hosts martial arts businesses, boy scout troop meetings, an RV park, youth horse boarders and other businesses.
“In order to have [cannabis events] it needed to be 21 and over and a certain distance from some things,” Bedingfield said.
When asked, she also said the fairgrounds isn’t taking a stance against marijuana.
So in order to host a cannabis event at either local fairground it would have to be strictly for people over 21 without any consumption or sales, Gieder said.
“Imagine having a wine makers expo where no one tastes wine,” he said.
This isn’t the sort of celebration of cannabis Gieder’s looking to throw.
“We really feel Cannifest has more legs outside of Humboldt County, outside of California even,” he said.
Gieder said he’s been researching parks in Pennsylvania and Ohio as possible Cannifest venues. But he added he hopes to have a Cannifest in Humboldt County again eventually.
“We’re still looking to make it happen,” he said.