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Chalice Festival Sues State of California for Right to Take Place

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By Jimi Devine

In a move that caused shockwaves across the California cannabis industry, the promoters of mega hash, glass and music festival Chalice have filed a lawsuit against the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control Chief Lori Ajax and the city of Victorville.

While many expected a coalition of small cultivators to take the Bureau of Cannabis Control to court over the implementation of Proposition 64, first California cannabis group to actually sue the BCC was the event so popular it brings 40,000 people to the middle of the desert in July.

Doug Dracup, the founder of Chalice, took to social media on Tuesday morning to inform friends and supporters about the case.

“After 2017 Chalice, we set our focus on being the first fully licensed and compliant cannabis festival in America,” Dracup said in a statement he posted on various social media platforms. “In December, we were first in line to be issued a cannabis event promoter license, which gives us the right to throw up to 10 events a year. The law said for each event we [would] need a temporary event license issued by the Bureau of Cannabis Control. So [on] Jan. 1, pioneering new territory, we set out with a group of attorneys and professionals to interpret the laws written on throwing cannabis events — verifying we were fully compliant, and that we were operating lawfully.”

Dracup went on to note that Chalice has been stifled by California’s new cannabis event regulations.

These regulations include the requirement for “local jurisdiction approval” and for events to be thrown on locations that are either county fairgrounds or owned by district agricultural associations, of which there are less than 100 in California.

“The location [where] we throw Chalice is a compliant DAA site that is licensable,” said Dracup. “After review, the attorneys deemed that the fairgrounds itself was the local jurisdiction and that it was sovereign to the local ordinances. We submitted an application to the BCC before the 60-day cutoff, our application was complete and met all legal criteria.”

According to Dracup, from there, the BCC denied the application due because the City of Victorville — where the fairgrounds is located — disapproval of cannabis activity in their jurisdiction.

“The locals denied them, therefore the Bureau cannot license them,” said Alex Traverso, spokesman for the Bureau of Cannabis Control, in a comment to the San Bernardino Sun.

Dracup then attempted to get on the agenda at a Victorville city council meeting, but he says they refused.

“We are trying to be respectful,” said Dracup. “We throw our event on compliant state property and are fully entitled to the BCC issuing us our retail sales license for the event. In conclusion, I’m suing the Bureau of Cannabis Control, and filing an injunction for the court to force the BCC to issue the permit.”

Dracup closed his statement by calling for supporters to attend Victorville’s city council meeting Wednesday, June 19.

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act’s Senior Advisor Lauren Vazquez told Cannabis Now the state has gone well beyond what’s needed in properly regulating events.

“The county fairground mandate goes too far,” said Vazquez. “It is impractical. These types of large cannabis fairs and expos are drawing huge crowds and top performers. They are only going to become more popular. Events like the Chalice Cup and Emerald Cup have proven they can be compliant, safe and bring economic benefits to the community. By banning these otherwise compliant events, the local governments and BCC are infringing on the right of the cannabis community to assemble together in celebration of [their/our] culture, a culture that up until 2016 was outlawed.”

Vazquez said cities and counties should welcome the revenue of thousands of attendees eating at local restaurants, staying in local hotels and generating sales tax revenue. “If they won’t seize the opportunity,” she said, “private event spaces should be able to step in and host these cannabis cups and fairs.”

Original Publication in CannabisNow.