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Weed sales OK'd at California's first big marijuana festival at Sacramento concert

Cannabis 101: Here’s what you need to know about recreational marijuana

Budtender Danny Cress gives a crash course in recreational marijuana, legal in California as of Jan. 1.
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Budtender Danny Cress gives a crash course in recreational marijuana, legal in California as of Jan. 1.

Marijuana lovers will be able to light up at the Lauryn Hill concert this weekend after all.

Despite the objections of the City Council member whose district represents the Cal Expo fairgrounds, the council approved a one-time license for marijuana consumption at the facility at this weekend’s Cannabis Cup festival.

By a 6-2 vote, the council approved a permit for on-site consumption and sales of marijuana at the Cannabis Cup on Friday and Saturday. Councilman Jeff Harris, whose district covers Cal Expo, and Councilwoman Angelique Ashby were the lone “no” votes. This will be the first permitted event for on-site consumption in the state since recreational use has been allowed.

Harris said the city has tried to adopt marijuana policy “slowly and methodically and transparently.” But he said he was not made aware of the Cannabis Cup request for on-site consumption until 12 days ago and that the council has not debated the broader topic of public consumption of marijuana.

“I don’t think we’re ready for this type of event in Sacramento,” he said. “We’ve never had a conversation about adult use in public. This is a big conversation to have.”

The state has the authority to allow on-site marijuana consumption at events on fairgrounds, but only if the local government approves the request.

Adam Levin, CEO of High Times, which is operating the festival, said the company thought it had the proper approvals prior to last week. “Unfortunately we came up in error,” he said. “And we worked to rectify the situation.”

Joe Devlin, the city’s chief of cannabis policy, said the event would generate more than $200,000 in local tax revenue. He said High Times had developed a “comprehensive security plan” that was approved by law enforcement and had organized a ride share program for those attending the festival.

High Times “has a distinguished track record of hosting safe, successful and compliant cannabis events,” Devlin said.

The musical lineup for Cannabis Cup includes acclaimed artists, including Hill, Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane, Rich The Kid, Cypress Hill, Rick Ross and Ludacris. The festival is expected to draw 15,000 visitors.

Councilman Jay Schenirer acknowledged that the city would have already debated the broader policy of on-site consumption at events “in a perfect world,” but that he doesn’t expect that debate to occur for a while.

Schenirer said he supported the license because of the financial impact the event will have, saying the $200,000 tax windfall “honestly is very attractive to me because of the needs of the city.”

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