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Inaugural Cannabis Cup event snuffed out

<p>Horace Langford Jr. / Pahrump Valley Times - Nye Cannabis Coalition founder Michael Augustine attends a recent county commission meeting where discussions on medical marijuana took center stage. Augustine’s High Desert Cup Music and Cannabis Expo plans were dashed after running into financial setbacks he said.</p>

Horace Langford Jr. / Pahrump Valley Times - Nye Cannabis Coalition founder Michael Augustine attends a recent county commission meeting where discussions on medical marijuana took center stage. Augustine’s High Desert Cup Music and Cannabis Expo plans were dashed after running into financial setbacks he said.

A planned event highlighting the benefits of medical marijuana has been snuffed out.

Local resident Michael Augustine, founder of the Nye Cannabis Coalition (NCC), posted on his Facebook page this week that the High Desert Cup Music and Cannabis Expo has been canceled.

The coalition is a “Grass Roots” organization tasked with providing a unified platform voicing the needs of Nye County medical marijuana patients, ensure caregivers’ rights and be sure options are fairly distributed.

The three-day event was to take place at Petrack Park over Easter weekend next month.

Augustine lamented his decision to pull out of the event due mainly to finances.

“I am unable to meet the financial requirements necessary to fulfill the contractual obligations and commitments I agreed to in my business plan and to the Town of Pahrump, Nye County Sheriff’s Office and Nye BoCC, who by the way are very cool to work with. Yeah, I am sadly amazed at just how far this made it in the first place. So everybody knows, the only thing that stopped this event was money. Plenty of desire, plenty of hope and a true opportunity to be involved with the future of cannabis. I wish I had the money to do the High Desert Cup for free,” he posted this week.

On Tuesday, Pahrump Town Manager Susan Holecheck said local officials did everything they could to help Augustine hold a safe event at the site, but it just wasn’t to be.

“We received a telephone call yesterday afternoon from Mr. Augustine indicating he was canceling the festival. He did not give a reason why, but in previous conversations he had advised he only had two vendors registered for the event. I believe the town afforded every opportunity for the event to go forward and throughout the process attempted to protect the interests of the town and our residents,” Holecheck said.

Town Board Vice Chair Bill Dolan also took a pragmatic position regarding the cancellation.

“Am I disappointed that he wasn’t able to pull it together to bring folks into the community that would spend money here? Yeah, but I don’t know all of the reasons why he is canceling it. I don’t know if it was participation or the insurance issue. I have no idea what it was,” Dolan said.

The event, it seemed was destined for failure right from the beginning even though Augustine received a surprising amount of community support.

Augustine had previously said medical marijuana card holders could use a “patient’s tent” to ingest their medication at the park.

Once local law enforcement caught wind of Augustine’s intentions, they quickly changed the scope of the expo back in January by restating ordinances prohibiting the use of marijuana at public venues.

“It definitely could bring some challenges in terms of keeping it safe and secure,” said Assistant Sheriff Rick Marshall at the time. “If there is illegal activity going on, then naturally we will respond to it. If there is no illegal activity, there shouldn’t really be any major problems for us to handle there,” he said.

Town board member Dr. Tom Waters noted that the town made every effort to accommodate Augustine’s request to use Petrack Park for the event.

“It wasn’t really something I wanted to see in our town. Because we could not discriminate, there was no way that we could stop it. It’s things like that where I don’t want to see Pahrump glorified for. There are so many positive things about Pahrump and I think that might have set us back,” he said.

Water’s colleague, Amy Riches, was never on board for the expo.

Riches did not water down her comments about how she felt regarding the cancellation.

“I am thrilled. It did mess up our Easter plans for the park but the community pulled together and is making it happen at Ian Deutch Park. I was never for it anyway. I am for medical marijuana and I didn’t think this festival had anything to do with medical marijuana. I think this was promoting recreational use and I was never for it especially on Easter weekend,” he said.

Still, Augustine said he will continue to stand up for medical marijuana patients in their pursuit to have unrestricted access to their medications.

“I wish to follow up on my efforts to support the small medical marijuana patient base in Nye County, Nevada. Our medications, our caregiving opportunities along with our personal rights are going to be commanded to meet standards of a greedy political/police state agenda designed to allow tactical terrorism for enforcement of patient advocacy,” his post stated.