Written by David Castellon
They’re not exactly household names — Leafs by Snoop, Hashman Infused, Cannavore Confections or Willie’s Reserve.
But in states where sales of pot are legal, these producers of cannabis products are big names. And now that recreational marijuana use is legal in California, these companies likely will become better known here.
So much so, in fact, that Tully Huffaker sees these brands following in the path of Budweiser, Coors, Corona and other brands to begin sponsoring concerts and other events.
So the concert promoter is testing the waters by putting on the first licensed cannabis event in the state since recreational sales of the drug became legal on Jan. 1.
The Burn Out Music Art and Cannabis festival will be held Saturday at the Tulare County Fairgrounds in Tulare.
Huffaker, a Fresno concert promoter working with a silent partner, has booked musical performers including Afroman and Planet Asia along with some local bands perform on two stages at the fairgrounds, and local artists and vendors also will be on hand.
Despite, “Cannabis” being in the event’s name, recreational cannabis will not be sold there. Instead, Huffaker said, a cancer patient from Fresno County and advocate for the medicinal use of marijuana will pass out “blunts” — marijuana rolled in tobacco paper — to the first 500 people who arrive for the event.
In addition, a building at the fairgrounds will be set aside only for adults with doctors’ recommendations for medical marijuana use, and representatives from a licensed medical dispensary will be inside selling cannabis to them.
But smoking pot will be limited to inside that building, so second-hand smoke doesn’t affect other patrons, said Pamela Fyock, CEO of the Tulare County Fairgrounds.
The fairgrounds are in the city limits of Tulare, where the city council approved last month an ordinance banning both medicinal and recreational cannabis businesses, with the exceptions of two medical marijuana dispensaries already operating there.
But the city doesn’t have a say on whether to allow a cannabis-related event at the county fairgrounds, as last year Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law state Senate Bill 94, a provision of which allows marijuana sales on state-owned fairgrounds, including the one in Tulare, where “The board of directors set policy that it was fine to have cannabis-related shows at the fairgrounds,” Fyock said.
Burn Out will not be the first such event there, as two smaller events related to medical cannabis where held at the fairgrounds last year without any significant problems, she said.
But the board did set up guidelines, including that no minors can attend Burn Out, and no smoking will be allowed on the grounds except for inside the dispensary building, said Fyock, who noted that restrictions on where people can smoke actually are common for special events at the fairgrounds.
Organizers also will have to follow state cannabis laws, she said, noting that attendees will need to have their doctors’ recommendations in hand to purchase medicinal marijuana.
For his part, Huffaker has no problems with the restrictions, noting that he has been meeting with Tulare police and fairgrounds officials who made it clear no recreational pot sales will be permitted at Burn Out.
Besides, Huffaker said he doesn’t see cannabis as the main draw for his event.
“I don’t think the cannabis is going to sell tickets. I think the artists are going to sell tickets. I think cannabis is just part of the atmosphere.”
This isn’t Huffaker’s first cannabis-related event. In the past, he has helped organize medical cannabis festivals in Southern California, but those were put on by promoters seeking easy cash grabs, so the medical dispensaries weren’t overseen well and “there was a lot of open selling of cannabis,” so much so that the music became secondary.
“It wasn’t a very peaceful, fun development,” said Huffaker, who normally books and organizes small concerts in the Fresno and Porterville areas.
He said he wants a more fun, artsy festival “to demonstrate the positive influence cannabis can have over live entertainment.”
In fact, Huffaker said he has had such an event in mind since he realized California seemed on track to legalize recreational marijuana, which voters did in the Nov. 2016 election. But the law didn’t take effect until the start of this year while the state worked out systems to license and permit marijuana businesses, with Huffaker and his partner being the first people in the state to apply for a cannabis event permit.
“I’ve just been anticipating that eventually cannabis would take a position in the entertainment industry, like Budweiser,” as a sponsor of concerts and events, said Huffaker, adding that as cannabis becomes more mainstream, makers of cannabis products likely will promote events, too, to build the popularity of their brands.
Not that he has any such sponsors for Burn Out later this month.
“It’s brand new, so we are not at the point where cannabis companies are sponsoring music festivals, but they will be. So we’re starting with baby steps,” Huffaker said.
Tickets for Burn Out are $20 in advance and $30 at the door, with a limit of 1,000 to be sold.
Huffaker said he anticipates selling all the tickets, and “If this goes well, it could set the tone for other [cannabis-related] events,” which could include putting on another Burn Out event at the Tulare County Fairgrounds again next year.
“If the city police department and the fairgrounds are happy, we probably would do it again.”
What: Burn Out Music Art and Cannabis festival
When: 4-9 p.m. Jan 27
Where: Tulare County Fairgrounds, 620 S. K St., Tulare
Tickets: Available online for $20 at www.livemusiccity.com/event/4107 or on the day of the event at the gate for $30.