By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor

The prospect that Lemoore may be home to the First Annual Central California Hallo-Weed Medical Cannabis Cup appears to have ended this past week as city officials denied the event’s organizers a permit based on the inability to meet the city’s requirements.

A spokesperson for the event, Amanda Younger, informed The Leader that it will not appeal the city’s decision. “”We will not appeal the decision,” she said in an email to The Leader. “The city council vote on the appeal is scheduled for Oct. 20, only 11 days before the scheduled event. We are unable to take a chance on that time frame.”

Younger went on to say that early indications were that the event probably would have been a success. The event had sold close to 500 tickets. She said “High Times” magazine, the sponsor of the event, will look for an alternative site.

Initially such permits are approved or disapproved at the staff level, as it was in this case by the city’s planning department. There is an appeal process, which could go before the Lemoore City Council.

New York based “High Times,” a journal in publication for the past 40 years, was expected to sponsor the “Central California Hallo-Weed Medical Cannabis Cup” on October 31 through November 1 and applied recently for a permit to host the event at the Lemoore Raceway.

A letter denying a permit for the event was sent to “High Times” on Sept. 25 via email and the U.S. Mail. In a nutshell, the city is saying that planning for the event doesn’t meet all the requirements of a conditional use permit.

According to the denial letter written to “High Times” Younger, by Lemoore Interim Planning Director Judy Holwell, in order to receive a permit, the applicant must have met six findings made by the approving authority, which in this case is the city’s planning director. The findings are as follows:

  1. The use is a temporary use and will be limited to a specific duration of time, as established in the temporary use permit.
  2. The use will not be detrimental to the health, safety, or general welfare of persons, property, or improvements in the vicinity of the proposed use, or to the general welfare of the city.
  3. The use will not function or be located in a manner that restricts access to required parking areas.
  4. Approved measures for the removal of the use and site restoration have been required to ensure that no changes at the site would limit the range of possible future land uses otherwise allowed by this title.
  5. The approval includes provisions to ensure that each site occupied by a temporary use shall be clean of debris, litter, or any other evidence of the temporary use upon completion or removal of the use.
  6. The use is consistent with the general plan, applicable specific plans, and the provisions of this title.

According to Holwell: “Based on the application and information you submitted to the city … and upon review … there is not enough evidence to support the required findings, numbers 2, 4, 5 and 6. Therefore, the city planning director hereby denies your request for a temporary conditional use permit.”

Holwell also stated that the applicant may appeal this decision to the Lemoore City Council and that the appeal must be received in writing within 10 days of the date of receiving the denial letter.

City officials, in regards to several of the findings take issues with the organizer’s abilities to provide adequate parking or provide services for those with disabilities. Furthermore city officials say there aren’t any contingency plans in the event if more than the expected 5,000 to 6,000 persons attend. Agreements with Cal Trans and the Lemoore Volunteer Fire Department and the Lemoore Police Department have not been agreed to, and agreements requiring liability insurance and a $100,000 bond have not been provided to the city.

“High Times” hasn’t responded yet to the denial, but in an earlier interview the magazine’s events coordinator, Younger said the Cannabis Cup isn’t designed as a free-for-all in Lemoore and a place to smoke freely, but rather an event chocked full of vendors and marijuana-based seminars on a wide variety of subjects.

Younger told The Leader that she expected between 5,000 and 6,000 persons would attend the 2-day event in Lemoore. “No marijuana will be sold and distributing of cannabis is not allowed,” she said. “However, if you have a medical ID card and if you enter a special medical area, they’re allowed to consume cannabis on their own. Our vendors are not allowed to sell or distribute.”
“High Times” has a circulation of about 100,000 and has hosted other cannabis events, including in southern and northern California. This is the first time it has attempted to host an event in the central valley.

“High Times” recently applied for the permits and was introduced to the city manager by Councilmember Billy Siegel. The owners of the property where the event would take place referred “High Times” to the Lemoore councilmember.

Several councilmembers have already questioned the appropriateness of a marijuana-themed event in Lemoore. Mayor Lois Wynne and Councilmember Jeff Chedester were not at all happy with the idea of such an event in Lemoore