High Times’ Cannabis Cup set to begin today (on 4/20 of course) in San Bernardino, California is moving forward with its expansive event despite the city officials denying a key permit for the event 48 hours prior to doors opening. In a 6-0 vote, the San Bernardino city council decided to block the sale of cannabis at the High Times event, which is one of the largest cultivator competitions in the nation.

Cannabis Cup’s estimated 20,000 attendees will have to go weed-free for the three-day event that features cannabis vendors, the awards ceremony, and a live music component with a strong hip-hop lineup.

The San Bernardino City Council decision to block, at the last minute, the lawful sale of cannabis-based products during this weekend’s Cannabis Cup event at the National Orange Show Fairgrounds is deeply regrettable. It impairs the legal ability of farmers to sell their products to willing customers, as guaranteed under the state’s Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone legislation,” said High Times SVP of Events, Brian Rucker in a statement provided to Amplify.

Rucker added “High Times has worked for years with San Bernardino city and county planners and leaders to help make our annual Cannabis Cup event there the state’s biggest celebration of legalization. The event has become a remarkable cultural celebration featuring amazing music, vendors of a wide range of products, food and more. It’s also a major boost to the San Bernardino economy, drawing thousands of visitors from across the state and beyond.”

During the 2016 election, California voted to legalize recreational marijuana with the law going into effect January 1, 2018. California’s Prop 64 gave city and local governments significant control over what is and isn’t allowed in their community. Currently, events where marijuana is consumed and sold can only take place at 80 state and municipally owned fairgrounds or agricultural association properties scattered throughout California such as Fairplex in LA County or the National Orange Show Events Center in San Bernardino, where the Cannabis Cup will be held this weekend, despite the permit setback.

Based on the Agriculture Incentive Zone laws, we did not pursue a city license until this week, as the city adopted an ordinance requiring municipal approval only 8 days ago,” Rucker said. “Given the 60 day lead time required for approval, the Board’s basis for denying the application, this put our brand in an impossible spot to meet all the required prerequisites.”

Despite the permit denial, High Times is moving forward with its annual event minus the sale of cannabis products.

Head of Media Relations for High Times, Jon Cappetta told Amplify “There are other elements to the event besides the exhibitor village,” including a section of the event that was previously sectioned off for medicinal marijuana cardholders. The area will now be open to all 18 years or older attendees since the sale of cannabis will not occur on site.

Cappetta said “Anybody (18+) is welcome to come and join us at the event. We have a big area with a ferris wheel and food vendors. A big portion of our draw is performances with A-list talent. This weekend we have Nas, Lil Wayne, 2 Chains, Rick Ross, Lupe Fiasco who still makes the little kid inside me do backflips.”

The three-day event will also feature performances from Raekwon, T.I., Yo Gotti, and Rich The Kid in addition to seminars, live podcasts, a tattoo village, and other lifestyle activations.

“People have this image of Shaggy from Scooby Doo and that’s what they see as a stoner, but it is not just one section of people. Part of the reason we do these events is to open the floodgates and let the community know each other,” Cappetta said. “That’s a stigma we’re actively working against. People look at the typical ‘stoner’ as someone who is unproductive, unmotivated, and these are some of the most productive, motivated people in the world at this organization. These are professionals.”

High Times has held cannabis events in Colorado, Canada, and Amsterdam and worked with festivals like Reggae on the River and Life Is Beautiful.

High Times has a long history of orderly, safe cultural celebrations that follow the law while allowing citizens to exercise their legal rights,” Rucker said. “The 44-year-old magazine was the first focused on the Cannabis industry, and has been sponsoring Cannabis-related events nearly as long. We will continue to be a beacon of freedom and progress, while respecting the laws of the State of California.”

The Sunday night Cannabis Cup awards will also go on as scheduled. Cannabis experts (essentially the sommeliers of marijuana) are given kits weeks before the event to test out and judge different strains or products. The awards are handed out live on the main stage with organizers saying the winners are cheered and celebrated nearly as much, if not more than the musical acts.

“Disneyland is supposed to be the happiest place on earth. That may be true, but I think most people who say that have never been to a Cannabis Cup,” said Cappetta. “I’ve been in the events business for the last 15 years and I’ve never been anywhere where everyone is smiling the entire time. You walk anywhere and people want to help you or want to know ‘What are you smoking on, man?’ They are having the time of their lives.”

To learn more about High Times, Cannabis Cup, or purchase tickets for this weekend’s event head here.

Taylor Mims

Taylor Mims

News Editor at Amplify
Taylor Mims is Amplify's News Editor. She is a Los Angeles native and received her Masters in Creative Writing from Cal State Long Beach.
Taylor Mims