|Photo: Bnk Presents|
|Last year’s event was held at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, but a state moratorium on “drug use” in state facilities necessitated a move to Oakland this year.|
Oakland, California — which has been one of the leading cities in the cannabis movement, medicinal and otherwise, for more than 15 years — will this weekend host a cannabis street fair touted as the first in the nation.
The fair will feature speakers, music, booths and vendors, along with a “215 area,” also know as the “Patient Consumption Area and VIP Lounge,” which is a designated spot — directly in front of City Hall — where patients with medical marijuana cards will be allowed to ingest, smoke or vaporize their medicine, reports Matthai Kuruvila of the San Francisco Chronicle.
“Patients need to take their medicine when they need to,” said Berkeley resident Kim Cue, chief executive of the International Cannabis & Hemp Expo (INT CHE), which kicks off at “high” noon on Saturday. “Being a patient myself, that’s something that’s mandatory.”
The open-air patients’ lounge is believed to be the first of its kind in the country, according to organizers. There will also be devices available to help people make their own hashish.
The “215” in the smoking area’s name is a reference to Proposition 215, the 1996 ballot measure under which California voters legalized the medicinal use of cannabis.
Oakland was the first city in the U.S. to formally license medical marijuana dispensaries, according to elected officials and cannabis activists. City voters in 2004 passed Measure Z, making possession of small amounts of recreational pot the lowest enforcement priority for police. Underground pot clubs have been operating ever since.
In 2009, Oakland voters passed a measure to tax and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, the first such tax in the country.
The city has a wealth of marijuana-related businesses, especially in downtown’s Oaksterdam section, where cannabis college Oaksterdam University and a group of related businesses are located. The city’s association with marijuana is something that INT CHE’s promoters, as well as the locals, want to tout.
“Oakland needs to be the tourist destination for cannabis,” said Salwa Ibrahim, who handles government relations for Oaksterdam University. “We felt like a street fair for the cannabis industry would help solidify that.”
The two-day even twill close off an area bounded by Broadway, Clay Street, 14th Street and 16th Street, including Frank Ogawa Plaza. Only adults will be allowed inside, and there will be a single point of entry, according to Ibrahim.
Tickets start at $19.98; organizers said they expect at least 20,000 people to attend.
For $300, you can get a Golden Ticket that includes, according to the expo’s website, “a judge’s pass that allows you to sample dozens of strains,” a “celebrity meet and greet,” access to a tented “Vapor Lounge” and two “complimentary hash bars.” Organizers are calling it “a true VIP experience.”