Pitch a revised festival

Marijuana has been legalized in Canada. That door is never likely to close. And it shouldn’t. No longer charging people with possession of small amounts of pot has made a difference in the lives of the OPP and the courts. It’s allowing resources to be placed elsewhere and eased some of the burden on the judicial process. The legalization hasn’t caused any big ripples in Haliburton County. Recreational pot users have been here forever and they will continue to be here forever. For our municipalities, there have been some growing pains. However, Dysart et al was correct in opting in to allow marijuana retail in the township. Though still hoping to win a lottery to sell marijuana one day, Capturing Eden has quietly settled on Haliburton’s main street, offering marijuana-related education, which has in turn helped to destigmatize pot in the wake of some people yelling ‘reefer madness.’ Marijuana festivals are also starting to crop up across the country. There was one held in Baysville, in the District of Muskoka, this past summer. By all accounts, it was well received. It was a oneday indoor event, with 20 vendors and eight speakers. Proponents of a marijuana festival have now come before Dysart’s events committee. They want to hold a three-day festival next September, estimating they can secure 100 vendors and draw 6,500 people. While we appreciate their intent – to destigmatize cannabis and do some healthy teaching around its use – we share the committee’s concern with a few things. Calling the event Potapalooza does sit uncomfortably with some people. As one committee member commented, anything with a ‘palooza’ in it makes people think of partying. The organizers said it was a working title only and they could change it. Good idea. The other knock on the event was that they were trying to do too much for a firsttime event. They were told they were being overzealous in thinking the festival could run for three days, host 100 vendors and bring 6,500 through the door. The committee voted the festival down, however, they did not close the door to organizers coming back with a revised pitch. We would encourage them to do so. Anything that will in fact destigmatize and teach about how and when to use cannabis is a good thing. They said they want to cover all genres of cannabis production and what is available to the consumer. They say they will bring food vendors, live bands, something called the cannabis cup, live cooking shows, celebrity speakers, educational speakers and more. They also promise to donate proceeds to a children-related charity in Haliburton County. Democracy isn’t always pretty. Debate about the festival lasted for some time and much was hashed out. The proponents weren’t overly thrilled with the outcome. However, we would encourage them to take on the constructive criticism and perhaps pitch a one-day, indoor, festival with fewer vendors and speakers and lowered expectations for patrons. It’s something they might be able to convince the committee and council to back. If they can demonstrate the festival will work and fit in with Dysart et al’s values, they can then pitch a longer and larger festival for 2021.

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