The Victorville City Council on Thursday night refused to sign off on allowing cannabis consumption and sales at the Chalice California festival, set for July 13-15 at at the San Bernardino County fairgrounds.
The decision came after a few dozen people spoke in support of the festival, citing the economic benefit Chalice brings to the community, its solid safety record and an opportunity to help move newly legalized cannabis culture “out of the shadows.”
“There’s a lot of jobs that are going to be lost out there, a lot of revenue that’s going to be lost out there,” said Adelanto Mayor Rich Kerr. Fair officials have said last year’s event generated $33 million in local spending.
But Victorville officials insisted that their city code prohibits cannabis sales and events, and that they can’t change the rules without going through a formal process.
Councilwoman Blanca Gomez suggested having the planning commission review the city’s entire cannabis ordinance, but no one on the council seconded her motion.
Gomez said she and other council members can’t comment on the festival because Chalice organizers filed a lawsuit against them earlier this month. State officials, also named in the lawsuit, sent a letter expressing a similar position.
The festival has been held at the fairgrounds in Victorville since 2016 under the state’s once-loose medical marijuana laws. City Manager Keith Metzler told the council he believes the festival can still happen this year as it has in years past, and that he doesn’t believe the argument that they’ll lose significant revenue without city approval.
However, California laws that kicked in Jan. 1 that legalize the recreational use of marijuana also limit marijuana-themed festivals to county fairgrounds and require organizers to get permission from local authorities before they can get a state permit for cannabis consumption and sales.
After the San Bernardino City Council denied approving permission for April’s High Times Cannabis Cup festival, vendors said the event — held without sanctioned sales and consumption of cannabis — was a “ghost town.”
Chalice is still slated to take place in Victorville next month, with music acts including Ludacris and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. But Ryan Heil, who helps produce Chalice, said vendors with contracts valued at more than $1.1 million are already threatening to pull out. And he expects a 60 percent loss in revenue without city approval for marijuana consumption and sales.
Here’s Cannifornian coverage of the 2017 Chalice festival: