Since legalization passed in California in November of 2016, all state-legal cannabis events have taken place on county fairgrounds or district agricultural association land by law.
However, the problem with this law is that not every county is happy with the way things went on election night 2016. It has been easy for municipalities where county fairgrounds are located to create almost insurmountable roadblocks for cannabis events to get approved. While places like Santa Rosa have scored big — holding numerous events throughout the year so far, including the Emerald Cup — for the most part, the cannabis event scene in California has been a flicker of its past heyday since legalization was enacted.
That’s where AB 2020 comes in to hopefully change the current status quo. Authored by Assemblymember Dr. Bill Quirk of Hayward, the bill will empower local officials to determine what venues temporary cannabis events can happen in. On Sept. 26, Gov. Brown signed AB 2020 into law, and it will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.
“Cannabis events support local economies and small businesses,” Quirk said in a statement on the bill’s signing. “Despite the fiscal and communal benefits such events bring to a city or local community, current law prohibits local governments from approving applications for cannabis sales at special events if they are held anywhere but on county fairgrounds. AB 2020 remedies this gap by allowing local governments to approve temporary cannabis event licenses at any venue they wish to permit.”
Quirk noted how long it took consumers in some counties to actually get to the fairgrounds, in some cases which are located over a hundred miles away. He also noted while some cities had expressed a desire to figure something out and start licensing private locations to hold cannabis events, the previous layout of the law made it impossible.
“Under this bill, the state has given our cities more autonomy in determining where and how temporary cannabis events take place throughout California,” said Quirk.
Oakland is a prime example of a municipality who could make use of the new policy quickly. The city has historically had a thriving underground cannabis events scene, with many promoters expecting to transition to adult-use market. Sadly for them, Alameda County Fairgrounds is located in the suburban city of Pleasanton, and has been more likely to host SWAT team conventions than pot parties.
“I want to thank Assemblymember Quirk for his leadership, hard work, and determination in authoring AB 2020 and his efforts with getting the bill to the Governor,” said Rebecca Kaplan, council member-at-large for the City of Oakland, which passed the first “tax and regulate” law for cannabis in the nation. “I also want to thank Governor Brown for signing this landmark legislation. With this bill now law, any local jurisdiction can choose to take part in this robust industry, while supporting small businesses, enhancing regional economic opportunities, and maintaining safety.”
Events will be permitted by the city and state, and promoters will be required to send the government lists of participating Bureau of Cannabis Control-licensed companies two months before the event takes place. Despite the crazy lead time, this certainly opens up new possibilities for California cultivators.
Before legalization, the cannabis event circuit had presented growers a critical to find their way into the hearts of some of the state’s most enthusiastic consumers. This year, many companies that maybe hadn’t even thought about being on dispensary shelves in recent years found themselves hunting for distributors and all the other checkmarks to exist. AB 2020, after some hoops to jump, will allow the products from these growers to get back into the hands of the consumers in a direct manner. This is especially important in the new age of corporate cannabis, as many longtime farmers struggle to survive. With the help of AB 2020, surely at least a few more will.
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