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High Times Cannabis Cup 4/20 event rejected in Southern California

LOS ANGELES — The High Times Cannabis Cup, which features hip-hop stars, pot sales and a namesake produce competition, survived 30 years of the war on drugs only to face a more daunting challenge: bureaucracy in the era of legalization.

The San Bernardino, California, City Council late Wednesday denied High Times’ application the needed approval to run the event, one of the largest of its kind in the nation.

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The three-day pot festival in San Bernardino was at the last-minute mercy of state and local officials after new state regulations on marijuana, designed in part to implement the will of voters who wanted recreational cannabis in 2016, kicked in on Jan. 1. Since then, approval from local jurisdictions has been needed before the state will green light such gatherings.

The 6-0 city council vote to deny High Times a permit means Cannabis Cup and its estimated 20,000 attendees would effectively have to go cannabis-free at the event held annually around April 20, better known to marijuana enthusiasts as 4/20.

A representative for the publication told the council that if the plug was pulled, High Times might have to offer refunds for tickets, which ranged from $60 up to $420. She also said it was possible the music portion of the festival could carry on as planned.

The Cannabis Cup boasted headline rappers Nas, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, Rick Ross and others as part of its lineup. Normally fans would also be able to purchase exotic strains of marijuana at booths at the venue, the National Orange Show Events Center.

Earlier Wednesday, High Times publicist Jon Cappetta indicated to NBC News that he expected the permitting process would be smooth sailing despite the last-minute scramble. And Lori Ajax, chief of the California Bureau of Cannabis Control, said in an email to the city that the event would be allowed by her agency if the council gave its blessing.

But council members Virginia Marquez and John Valdivia expressed deep reservations about the legality of the event — city legal staffers said applicants are supposed to receive local approval 60 days before the start of a festival in order to get state approval — and so they offered a successful motion to deny the marijuana portion of the festival.

The SoCal Cannabis Cup is this Friday – Sunday in San Bernardino! Vendors, music, See you there. Tickets & info at https://t.co/z3bf2G7Cth #SoCal #HighTimes #CannabisCup pic.twitter.com/Tz170Brhsh

Earlier this week the state Bureau of Cannabis Control issued a warning to so-called 4/20 festivals hoping to slip below the regulatory radar: Participating in an unlicensed 4/20 event or selling marijuana without a permit “may lead to civil penalties for unlicensed commercial cannabis activity.”

A High Times representative at the city council meeting blamed a lack of “clear guidance” on the part of the state, but the mayor and other council members noted that Californians approved legal recreational pot nearly a year and a half ago. And Councilwoman Bessine L. Richard said High Times has been selling tickets to the festival for months.

It’s not the first time the Cannabis Cup has run afoul of local authorities. In 2013 a festival scheduled for Los Angeles was forced to find a new home in San Bernardino after organizers said they faced opposition from the Los Angeles Police Department. Then, in 2016, the flagship 4/20 event was moved from the Denver area to San Bernardino after officials in Adams County, Colorado, rejected the festival.

The High Times Cannabis Cup, one of the nation's premier 4/20 festivals, is rejected by local officials in San Bernardino a few days before the stoner holiday.

High times cannabis cup san bernardino

As cannabis legalization expands amid widespread public support, so does the High Times Live & Legal Cannabis Experience Tour. Following the successful Cannabis Cup in New England, High Times is proud to announce several additions to the tour, including a return to two all-time fan favorites: Amsterdam and Jamaica.

First up, from November 19 through November 22, the tour will stop in Amsterdam, the European capital of legalized cannabis, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Cannabis Cup Crawl, where participants can go from cafe to cafe to sample and choose the world’s best strains and products. Making this event more special: any attendee has the opportunity to judge the competitors.

And March 1 through March 4, 2018, Live & Legal goes to Grizzlys Cove Plantation in Jamaica for a long weekend of music, competitions, exhibitions, demos and more, with a full festival site and campsite for those wanting an al fresco experience with their Cup adventures.

“Amsterdam and Jamaica are iconic locations in the history of legalized cannabis consumption, and we’re so happy to return to both with the Cannabis Cup Live & Legal Tour,” said Adam Levin, chief executive officer of High Times. “These are special places, and we’re doing everything to ensure those who join us at these destinations will have truly special experiences they’ll remember forever.”

High Times also returns to Southern California with the first Harvest Cup, to be held at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino on November 11 and November 12. The Harvest Cup is an extension of the Cannabis Cup brand and will focus on celebrating the season’s harvest of green. It is the second High Times event this year at the fairgrounds there.

The Harvest Cup will feature High Times’ biggest musical roster yet, with performances by top stars such as Flo Rida, Yo Gotti, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil’ Dicky, DMX and Wyclef Jean. It will also offer many much-loved High Times activities, such as a competition for cannabis-infused edibles, a topical massage spa, a vape lounge, a live-art experience and a non-alcoholic infused canna-beer garden.

The Cannabis Cup is the first and highest honor for creators of cannabis products, featuring independently lab-tested and judged products. Winners represent the best in California and the United States, Jamaica and Amsterdam.

Since 1987, High Times has hosted Cannabis Cups around the world with music, speakers, vendors and interactive cannabis “experiences.” Attendees come together as a community, with the opportunity to learn hands-on about cultivation, legalization and connoisseurship at the world’s premiere cannabis competition.

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