MMJ Opinion

MMJ is here to stay and is legal, but it depends on what public agency you talk to and that needs to change

Friday, July 10 will go down in history but not for the same reasons I would have wished. There was a state of the art social event planned that had to be cancelled, well not entirely cancelled, just the state of the art part.

Counter Culture Events AZ planned and promoted the Fire and Ice 7/10 dab party. For those who don't know July 10 is the new 4/20. The reason is if you turn 710 upsidedown and backwards it spells OIL. Hash oil is one name for some of the popular and potent cannabis extracts in the market these days. The event features three local bands including Alter Der Ruine who is about to embark on a nationwide tour opening for Haujobb, other local acts Mother's Lament and Intertwine, who have a Native American radio station, will also play.

The portion of the event that has been cancelled had to do with medical marijuana, big surprise. This event is not, and never was, open to the public. Everyone who attends must purchase a ticket making it a "private event." State certified medical marijuana patients were to be allowed to purchase VIP access to a "medicated area," where they could sample and share cannabis and cannabis-infused products with other like-minded patients. This type of activity has happened in places around Arizona, such as Phoenix and other private events and clubs here in Tucson. In and of itself, consuming cannabis at a private event is legal. Sharing amongst those with the right to consume and possess cannabis is legal. Talking about and considering the merits of different cannabis with like-minded folks is legal. But the powers that be apply pressure wherever and however they can.

In this case, the pressure came from the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control. An agent visited our friends at Club XS and said that smoking inside was in violation of the rules surrounding the clubs liquor license. The liquor control agent tried to scare the owner of the club saying there would be a citation and fine forthcoming if he allowed the event to include a medicated area, and it worked. My contract to rent the space has been abruptly cancelled, without return of deposits, although we were able to re-negotiate and maintain the venue for the concert.

Sponsors and vendors have had to change their weekend plans after being told there will be no medicated area. The patients that have enjoyed similar events in the past are being denied their chance to socialize and share their freedoms. I feel like I have  broken my word to all those above, but letting the patients down hurts me the most.

Counter Culture Events AZ won't go away. There are parks, concert halls, ballrooms, and many other venues that don't have liquor licenses, where we can host entertainment and socialize. Most medical cannabis patients don't enjoy alcohol anyway, but we wanted to be inclusive and have the party in a place where non-patients would feel at home and have fun as well.

This sort of issues also happen in places like Denver, where cannabis is legal but public consumption is not. Private clubs, bars, hotels and bed and breakfasts are marketing their businesses as 420 friendly. Some, with liquor licenses, have had similar visits from Colorado liquor control.

These pressures are a form of intimidation and discrimination. It scares people into the shadows. We need an open honest conversation about laws and customs surrounding cannabis. Times are changing and it's time to accept the differences between us.  

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