The Cannabi$ Scam Again

At the end of April, the Mayor yanked from the City Council agenda, at the last minute, a plan to turn Cesar Chavez Park over to Big Cannabis in the shape of the Cannabis Cup sponsored by High Times magazine. Now it’s rising from the dead, coming to a City Council committee meeting Monday July 8 at 10 a.m. at 2180 Milvia Street, 6th Floor.

Mayor Arreguin pulled the item off the agenda in response to widespread dismay and protest. As details of the proposal emerged, it became clear that:

  • High Times would fence the whole park for two or three days
  • High Times would charge $65 base admission, $410 VIP admission
  • No minors admitted
  • The park’s No Smoking rule would be violated at will
  • The danger of fire in the tinder dry grass would be ignored
  • The event would leave mountains of trash behind it
  • The fatal peril to dogs from eating cannabis would be ignored
  • Hundreds of people would drive out stoned onto Berkeley streets
  • Local cannabis dispensaries would see no customers during the event
  • High Times, the organ of Big Cannabis, would make a lot of money

This proposal not only amounts to park abuse, it’s a curse on the city, costing fire and police overtime. It’s also a scam on the local cannabis dispensaries and on small entrepreneurs ambitious to enter the business. They may think it will promote them, but nobody will shop there while the event is running. Big Cannabis has nothing but contempt for small operators.

How’s this for irony? The item is before the “Berkeley City Council Health, Life Enrichment, Equity & Community Committee.” The members are councilmembers Rashi Kesarwani (whose district includes the park), Ben Bartlett, and Sophie Hahn.

In the usual dodge that politicians use when pushing a terrible proposal, the item is framed as a “pilot program” and “temporary” for “one year.” That’s the camel’s nose under the tent flap. Here’s the whole item:

5. Pilot Cannabis Event at Cesar Chavez Park

From: Councilmembers Bartlett and Davila

Referred: June 24, 2019
Due: December 9, 2019
Recommendation: That the City Council permit a pilot cannabis event at Cesar Chavez Park. Adopt an ordinance amending BMC Chapter 12.22 to permit temporary cannabis events for a period of one-year after the effective date of the ordinance.
Financial Implications: Staff time
Contact: Ben Bartlett, Councilmember, District 3, 981-7130


Or email them all, but with higher probability of being ignored, at

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