The nation’s largest marijuana convention is picking up stakes, leaving Colorado, and moving to California this year, High Times magazine announced in March.
The High Times Cannabis Cup has long been the premier festival for stoners, medical marijuana patients, and other visitors. It has traditionally been held in Denver, but this year organizers ran into local resistance.
The magazine hosts several Cannabis Cup gatherings around the world, with conventions in California, Seattle, and Amsterdam. But the main show was always the Colorado Cannabis Cup, which took advantage of a 2012 vote to legalize marijuana in the state.
Permit rejected in Adams County
Organizers said they ran into trouble this time around when Adams County commissioners voted in February to reject a permit for the event. Their reasons are unclear but apparently involved local marijuana regulations and timing. High Times has other events planned in Colorado in the same time frame.
After the vote, the magazine’s editors opted to move the Cannabis Cup to San Bernardino, in the National Orange Show Events Center, from April 15 to 17. The Southern California venue has hosted numerous other pot-themed festivals, including the SoCal Medical Cannabis Cup of 2016.
In an email, editors informed vendors of the move, as well as plans to hold a separate and brief awards show in Denver April 19.
Award show organized for April 19 in Denver
“There will not be a Cannabis Cup in Pueblo, Colorado, but we will be hosting a one-day Colorado Cannabis Cup award show,” the e-mail explained. “There will be 7,500 people in attendance from across the spectrum, consumers, producers and business owners. Cypress Hill, Action Bronson, Cronixx and Parliament Funkadelic will be performing at this event. The U.S. Cannabis Cup will be held at Southern California on April 15-17th, and we’re expecting 25,000 in attendance.”
After the vote in Adams County, High Times tried to relocate to nearby Pueblo County but met resistance there too. The magazine’s editor in chief, Dan Skye, called the discussions with Pueblo County commissioners “friendly” and said “progress was being made.” But “our busy calendar of upcoming events persuaded us that the better decision was to host a full Cannabis Cup in Colorado at a later date,” Skye said.
“The simple fact is that, regardless of the tremendous strides that our community has made in legalizing cannabis, there’s still a long way to go,” he said.
Local economy will take a hit
The decision to move left many sponsors and vendors upset that their state has passed up a big boost to the local economy. Jake Salazar, a Denver dispensary owner who sponsored last year’s Colorado Cannabis Cup, said Adams and Pueblo counties have deprived businesses and taxpayers of revenue.
“It’s ridiculous,” Salazar said. “This community definitely benefits from having these nonviolent visitors come in and enjoy the freedoms that we have in Colorado, and they support other businesses — not just the cannabis businesses. The restaurants, hotels, convention centers and music and entertainment venues will miss out, too.”
The disappointment may not be permanent, however. High Times editors said they hope to move the convention back to Denver in coming years.
“I’m hopeful we can do the U.S. Cannabis Cup in Colorado, for sure,” said High Times COO Larry Linietsky.
Share your opinion: Is the move to California a good or a bad thing, even if the Cannabis Cup returns to Denver next year? Post a comment below.