Pahrump to host ‘Cannabis Cup’

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<p>Special to the Pahrump Valley Times - Local marijuana grower busts may become a thing of the past. With proper licensing, Nye County stands to increase revenue through taxing both growers and the one dispensary allowed for the county.       </p>

Roughly six months after Gov. Brian Sandoval signed SB 374, a bill for medical marijuana dispensaries to operate statewide, some marijuana advocacy groups in Nevada now believe it’s high time to advance their cause by holding events to educate the public on the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

One such event is tentatively scheduled to take place in Pahrump in April.

Representatives with the Nye Cannabis Coalition (NCC) say the organization is planning the first ever “High Desert Cup Music Festival and Cannabis Expo” at Petrack Park.

According to the organization’s Facebook page, the coalition is a “Grass Roots” organization tasked to provide a unified platform voicing the needs of Nye County medical marijuana patients, ensure caregivers’ rights and be sure options are fairly distributed.

NCC Founder Michael Augustine said the event’s main purpose is to help educate the community about the cannabis industry and help clarify what he says are “mistruths” and fallacies about marijuana.

“We want to provide a peaceful platform to celebrate, inform and demonstrate to the patients in the community the many levels of health and commerce the cannabis industry offers. It will also allow for the many personal, professional cannabis entities to freely interact with the general public, the county regulators, law enforcement and those interested in knowing more about the cannabis movement in the United States,” he said.

Augustine recently approached town officials about holding the festival in Pahrump complete with an assortment of local and out-of-town vendors.

Though music and entertainment will be available at the event, only individuals with valid medical marijuana cards will have full access to the event’s “Big Tent.”

Augustine said a Las Vegas doctor will visit the festival on April 19, to provide information on obtaining a medical marijuana patient (MMP) card.

Town Manager Susan Holecheck said the organization completed the initial process of securing the proper paperwork and documents for the festival.

She also said the Nye County Sheriff’s Office has been briefed and Sheriff Tony DeMeo has signed off on the event, essentially giving it the go-ahead come April.

“It is described as an educational forum and those in attendance would be those who have a medical marijuana card.” Holecheck said. “It clearly identifies them as being someone who takes and is allowed to ingest medical marijuana. As most of us know, the state has allowed that and Nye County has been awarded the ability to have one medical marijuana dispensary versus Clark County who has at least 40,” she noted.

The town manager also noted that Augustine, a long-time resident of Pahrump, has every right to legally sanction the event just as any other legal organization does, but there are certain procedures to follow according to state law.

“With every event there are some hoops to jump through. They need to provide evidence of insurance, and I will say that the sheriff’s office has signed off on the event. We just wanted to make certain that the sheriff’s office had not seen any logistical problems with it,” she said.

Calls requesting comments from the sheriff’s office this week regarding the event were not returned.

Holecheck, meanwhile, said if an event is legal in the eyes of the law, the town cannot deny the use of town-owned venues to organizations requesting to use them, including public parks.

“We of course cannot discriminate because the park is a public park and therefore anyone who wishes to reserve the park, we need to be careful not to discriminate its use to any groups or individuals. If this particular group or individual are able to provide evidence of insurance and we believe they followed everything that’s needed. There are still hurdles for the organization to get over and so far they just filled out a request to reserve the park,” she said.

Holecheck said that she has personally spoken to Augustine and due to the nature and content of the event, all parties involved need to proceed with proper discretion and prudence.

She also said local residents would be better off if they didn’t subscribe to the many rumors bound to come along as the event nears.

“We told him that they are going to need some clear-cut security measures and watch what will be going on in the park. There are already some rumors going around that somehow they will be passing out subscriptions and all of that. I can’t really speak to that just yet because it’s still too early to know if the festival will even take place. We will see if he is able to pull this off,” the town manager said.

Augustine, meanwhile, said he is certain the event could be as successful as similar “cannabis cup” events held in major cities across the country including Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

He touted the event as being an avenue for a huge economic boost in Nye County.

“The potential to create revenues is staggering. For many years the county has paid these economic development people, but when was the last time you heard of Nye County economic development making a cent?”

Augustine also said a Nye County Patient Collective is now forming if local adults wish to learn more about medical marijuana.

The email address is nyecannabiscoalition@gmail.com.

Augustine said additional details about the High Desert Cup Music Festival and Cannabis Expo will emerge in early 2014.

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