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San Jose businessman pushes city to allow cannabis events

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A San Jose entrepreneur wants the city to expand its horizons and allow special events at museums, concerts, and comedy clubs where adults can smoke, drink or eat cannabis products.

Fernando Alvarez, founder of VaporTent Lounges, said the city is missing out on the economic policy he helped other California cities shape. One that allows organizers to host special events where people can sell and consume weed. He claims it could be an increase in revenue for San Jose, but so far he hasn’t had any of the beneficiaries.

Alvarez has successfully lobbied for cannabis policies in San Francisco and Oxnard and says he is in talks with other cities, but he cannot buy from San Jose.

“Why do I have to keep going out of my hometown to implement (this idea)?” Alvarez told the San Jose Spotlight.

Cannabis consumption in California has been legal since 2016. In September 2018, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 2020, making it legal for licensed cannabis event organizers to hold events in public or private spaces.

Cities still have a great deal of discretion in managing the types of cannabis activities allowed, so Alvarez is working with local officials to establish policies that allow cannabis events. As an event organizer, Alvarez hopes to expand his own business by working with cities to agree to these policies.

San Francisco was the first city to institute such a policy, and Alvarez sat on the task force she helped found. In 2019, cannabis delivery company Eaze sponsored an event at the Outside Lands music festival where attendees could buy and consume cannabis.

Alvarez said event organizers should show in advance that they will have security protocols, on-site EMTs and age verifications. They must also ensure that the event is blocked and not shown to the public. Alvarez said he has highlighted the organized nature of these events in many discussions with San Jose officials over the years.

“We can do these small events, fully organized, licensed by the state and insured. This will be a new tourism opportunity,” he said.

Cannabis events are in the air

In January 2019, San Jose Council members Raúl Perales and Magdalena Carrasco wrote a memo containing several cannabis-related initiatives for the city to consider, including events. But she did not make a list of priorities for the 2019 calendar year.

A representative for Beralese said he was not available for comment. Carrasco’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wendy Solazi, director of San Jose’s cannabis regulation division, said the city will need to take a comprehensive look at the types of events being considered including public safety issues, such as measures to prevent drug driving. She added that there are potential public health concerns.

“For decades, the city of San Jose has been a public health leader in preventing secondhand consumption of tobacco and cannabis smoke,” Solazi said, noting that the city council has previously taken positions against allowing cannabis smoking in city-owned settings. .

San Jose has spent years looking for ways to expand the city’s thriving cannabis industry, but has faced setbacks. In 2019, the city made it a priority to consider allowing dispensaries to be located outside of industrial areas, making them more accessible. This proposal was made due to COVID-19 priorities.

Sean Cali Ray, a cannabis lobbyist and founder of the Silicon Valley Cannabis Alliance, said cannabis events could help rejuvenate the city’s legal weed industry.

“I think we should seriously look at consumer lounges and these kinds of professional events that are licensed in sanctioned areas,” Kaley Ray told the San Jose Spotlight Foundation. “Allow adults to do what they voted for under the motion. 64.”

Callie Ray said some of the inertia about cannabis is because San Jose is a predominantly suburban community.

“We’re only an hour from San Francisco, but the mentality is completely different,” said Callie Ray. “It was this general and conservative nature in San Jose that made them move with a little more hesitation and be more careful.”

Like Alvarez, Callie Ray suggests that dollars from cannabis tourism and events can help revitalize the downtown area. Some local business leaders have already tried to explore this idea.

Scott Kniss, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association, said his organization tried to organize a cannabis event at the 2020 Music in the Park Festival. Airfield Supply & Co. was. She would sponsor the event, but the pandemic decimated the plan. Knies told San Jose Spotlight that it may take a while to get the city to set policy, but it’s worth working on.

“This is the time when we should have discussions with the police department and with the city, and think about how we can support that,” Kniss said.

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Copyright © 2021 by Bay City News, Inc. Reproduction, rebroadcasting, or any other reuse is prohibited without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc.

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