Don't roll the bud bar out: Province says no to special event permits for cannabis

Party planners and festival promoters who were hoping to set up a weed garden next to the beer garden at their next event have seen that plan go up in smoke.

The provincial government has no plans to issue cannabis-related special event permits at this time, according to a statement from the Ministry of the Attorney General. 

Special event permits are regulated by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch. People can apply for one to be allowed to serve, sell and consume alcohol at celebrations or community festivals.

Hower, the regulation branch — which now regulates cannabis in addition to alcohol  — will not be issuing permits for pot as it does for alcohol, according to a spokesperson for the attorney general.

Disappointing, but not surprising

Event producers expressed disappointment but hope the province may eventually change its mind and grant temporary permits for the sale and consumption of cannabis. They say it could generate business and enhance event experiences.

"It's a little disappointing, but not surprising," said Nate Sabine, director of business development for Blueprint Events, one of the largest concert and event companies in Western Canada.

"It is something that we, on our side of the industry, certainly want," said Sabine, who said he has already been approached by clients who want to host cannabis-focused events and is very interested in Blueprint becoming a part of that culture.

C. Gauld Photography

But despite the interest from potential clients, Sabine said Blueprint will be patient and wait to see if the government changes its stance.

Dimitri Demers, co-owner of Atomique Productions — which produces Victoria's annual multi-venue four-day music festival Rifflandia in September— says he is cautiously optimistic the province will eventually change their tune.

Demers said Ottawa's move to legalize cannabis last month was a direct response to the will of the people. If people want to use cannabis at events, he hopes the province will consider it.

"It seems a little bit odd to legalize it and then ban it from public situations," said Demers.

No consumption lounges allowed

The Ministry of the Attorney General also said in a statement that it has no plans to designate consumption sites at events, such as lounges.

But David Gonella, executive director of the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society that organizes the community's annual roots and blues festival, wasn't planning on rolling out the reefer and recliners anyway.

Gonella said in a statement his staff has been discussing the new cannabis laws and how to implement them to best serve their event.

"We will be taking a very slow and methodical approach to integrate cannabis into our festival universe," said Gonella.