Mean Against Green
By Alex Distefano
Mere weeks before us Californians are asked to weigh in on the question of whether or not it should be legal for those 21 and older to possess marijuana, allegations have recently arisen that some Riverside County officials have discriminated against cannabis—specifically an herb-themed event that was scheduled for the Winchester area about two weeks ago.
Officially dubbed the “Greenside Harvest Festival,” this Smoking Tees-sponsored event was shut down by authorities citing “permit” issues.
But was the problem a permit—or just some of that old-fashioned Harry Anslinger-inspired reefer madness?
Like many things, it depends on who you ask.
Regarding the sponsor, Smokin Tees is an IE-based art design and cannabis-themed T-shirt printing company that was established three years ago, April 20 (get it, 4/20?); 2007, to be precise. According to the company’s MySpace page, they offer “a new and artistic twist to all our favorite strains. All of our designs are custom screen printed by Smokin Tees at our mountain high facility in Anza Valley.”
Shawn Eddy, an event organizer, isn’t too happy with the way things went down. Set to take place on Oct. 16 at the Winchester Wild Arena, between Hemet and Temecula, Greenside Harvest Festival essentially, effectively ended up being canceled.
Thanks, Riverside County.
While authorities cited permit issues a few days before the festival weekend, Eddy suspects the obvious conclusion: It was a pot-friendly event in a pot-unfriendly county.
He’s certain the event was quashed because of its nature, as organizers weren’t shy about labeling it as a “cannabis infused music and arts festival” on flyers, ads and online.
The event had been booked with reggae bands and trumpeted “smoker friendly areas” and glass blowing demonstrations.
The Weekly received a copy of a Riverside County press release dated from Oct. 14, regarding the event, which said “proceeding with the event might violate a separate, existing permit that allows the business to operate.”
But Eddy claims that officials with the county’s Sheriff’s Department and Code Enforcement, at the last minute, selectively chose to shut down Greenside.
And “that is what ultimately shut down the event,” says Eddy. “They also let us know that they did not recognize Prop. 215 (California’s successful medical-marijuana ballot initiative).”
But Riverside County spokesman Raymond Smith said that this situation had nothing to do with the type of event, and that allegations of selective enforcement are false. He said that the required permit that would have allowed Greenside to continue was never filed.
“We did not selectively enforce the zoning permits and regulations for this event,” Smith tells the Weekly. “It is the same no matter what type of event. If we had not required them to get a permit, that would have been selective enforcement. This was done solely for the size of the event.”
“I want to make it clear: We did not shut down this event, and we simply notified the organizers that they did not have the necessary permit,” Smith adds.
But Smokin Tees sees things different. Eddy says there is no question cannabis was a reason this festival was shut down.
“This venue has ran hundreds of events—music concerts, rodeos, car shows and many others—and has been in business for over 20 years without ever having any issues, until the Greenside Festival. All because it was cannabis-related.”