For the last three year, the fabled Cannabis Cup has been put on in Washington — one of the four states in the United States that has legalized both medical and recreational use of cannabis. The Cannabis Cup has put on two shows in Fremont and one in Everett, making them no stranger to the state and dealing with the marijuana laws that are included when running such a large cannabis convention.
The Cup itself is famous for its musical events, cannabis product showcases, celebrity appearances, educational seminars, competitions of varying sorts and, of course, the samples. Not only is the event enjoyable for the patrons, but it gives the industry a chance to showcase and explain the progress they have made in the industry and help others to reach that point themselves. However, due to a new set of legislation that was just passed through the state government, the Cannabis Cup has all but been bullied out of being able to put together any similar kind of gathering in the state of Washington.
Initiative 502 is the state’s bill explaining the marijuana programs, but a new version has recently been passed as a kind of overhaul bill for the medical marijuana industry throughout the state. Governor Jay Inslee received the bill and signed it into law, including with it a few changes that were then approved by the state Legislature.
The bill essentially pulls a complete one-eighty on how the state was originally pursuing the idea of medical marijuana. The state has reduced the amount of cannabis for each patient down from 24oz to a mere 3oz, putting an even tighter restriction on those who can be considered to qualify for medical marijuana. The conditions that are listed for eligibility have also been limited, forcing patients to buy their medicine from a state licensed recreational dispensary. The bill also essentially bans sales at any and all medical marijuana dispensaries not owned by the state, completely bans any and all home growing operations, especially all collective gardens and requires that all medical patients officially register with the state and pay the normal excise and state taxes that recreational users are required to pay.
While all of this does seem quite detrimental to the medical marijuana industry in Washington, it doesn’t explain why the Cannabis Cup was banned from being put on in the state. Since Initiative 502 was passed, control of the marijuana industries throughout the state was given to the Washington State Liquor Control Board, now being renamed to the State Liquor and Cannabis Board. And in order to host an event such as a Cannabis Cup, one is required to get permits from the state to legally do what they do best.
This year, High Times requested to have a liquor license and a special event permit, as the state law requires for them to do. The state denied them the special event permit, because due to state law if the expo was allowed to have liquor present, then no cannabis consumption whatsoever could take place on the grounds allowed by the venue permit.
Dan Skye, the editor-in-chief at High Times magazine, said that the marijuana and counter-culture institution has run headlong into a bureaucratic dead end. And since High Times needs a pretty big venue, it’s looked at parks and the Port of Seattle property, Skye said, but those areas “get a lot of federal money, so those people are very, very reticent to open up their doors to High Times.
“And the private venues, because the rules appear to be somewhat gray, are very, very reticent as well to sign on with High Times. So we have basically given up, and it’s a real shame because Portland is jumping on this and we’re going to have a huge cup in early August there.”
According to a state board spokesperson, “From an enforcement standpoint, we have authority over the marijuana licensees and the venue if it holds a license, and we are required to enforce the laws as they pertain to those entities. If people want to see these types events, then they need to contact their legislators to change the law because as presently written [they] don’t allow for this type of event.”
What do you think about the changes to Washington’s initiative? Share your thoughts in the comments.