A South Lake Tahoe medical marijuana dispensary’s planned 420 celebration featuring musician Julian Marley this Easter Sunday vanished in a permit dispute with the city on Tuesday.
Organizer Cody Bass, after the meeting, said the show will go on, but likely in Reno.
South Lake Tahoe officials twice denied a temporary activity permit for the show in the last two weeks. They cited parking and security concerns as well as the impacts for neighboring property owners, some of who did not support the event.
City officials also said the venture would violate city ordinances for medical marijuana dispensaries. The dispensary’s permit expired March 27 and was temporarily extended by City Manager Nancy Kerry while it is being reviewed for renewal.
Entering its fourth year and growing, the 420 celebration and concert would have been held in the parking lot at Tahoe Wellness Cooperative, 3445 Lake Tahoe Blvd., the city’s only authorized dispensary. It was advertised to include a “cannabis cup” for medical marijuana patient judges to sample up to 42 different strains of marijuana.
Over the last two weeks, Bass and city officials have unsuccessfully gone back and forth over the permit terms that would need to be met. Last year’s event triggered noise and loitering complaints, according to Chief of Police Brian Uhler.
“Sgt. (Josh) Adler responded and reported there was music playing and that there was marijuana smoke wafting so much so across the highway that it could be smelled from cars when driving past,” Uhler told the City Council.
Bass appealed the permit denial but was unable to convince South Lake Tahoe City Council to overturn it. Council members unanimously upheld the decision and maintained that city planning staffers had done everything they could to help Bass get a permit at his proposed site or even find a different location for the show, such as Bijou Park.
There also was confusion as to whether the marijuana dispensary or one of two event promotions companies linked to Bass was organizing the show. One of the promotion businesses was listed as the permit applicant and not licensed in South Lake Tahoe, said Hilary Roverud, the city’s development services director.
The first permit application did not reflect the nature of the event as it was being advertised or represented on promotional materials, Roverud said. It also did not address any parking, security or trash cleanup concerns, while a second application still did not adequately address those concerns, she said.
“This is so far and above what a (medical marijuana) dispensary was intended to do and support. On that alone I have a problem,” Mayor Hal Cole said about his decision to reject the appeal.
With a major headline act, the celebration and concert was expected to draw anywhere from 1,000 to 2,500 people. Councilman Tom Davis said the event has simply outgrown its location.
“It’s just too big, too complex of an event and you don’t have permission of the adjacent owners. That’s huge to me,” Davis said.
Bass also recently applied for a special use permit to offer the concert for free without the cannabis cup at Lakeview Commons, the site of a summer music series on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe. He argued that would be a better site than Bijou Park, but city officials showed no appetite in expediting the untimely application for a permit that normally requires 90 days to review and approve.
“We tried to move it to Lakeview Commons and make it a free show for the whole community, but the city wouldn’t accommodate that either,” Bass said.
City officials countered that the show would not go on in South Lake Tahoe primarily because of poor planning on the part of its organizers.