There was even a beer garden.
A brief confrontation between two craft cannabis camps set the tone for the weekend, but for the most part, things remained peaceful. Even when one company took home a majority of the awards.
“What’d you do? Pay off the judges?” Mr. Lahey joked with the winner. No, he had flooded the entries with his product to increase the odds of winning.
Why there wasn’t a rule against that reflected poorly on the organizers of the cup.
But all can be forgiven if it wasn’t for the mismanagement of organizers Donnelly & Associates, a situation that even an RCMP officer called, “a PR disaster.”
The real trouble began Sunday morning, but first, a word or two on how music festivals should be run versus how Donnelly & Associates ran the Bio Cup.
CLN was part of the media group that was promised backstage access, but, along with the others, we were led through a backstage maze, through a VIP beer garden, and then to a spot away from the stage.
This was backstage access? Donnelly has a strange definition of backstage. An attempt to get closer to the stage proved unsuccessful.
There was also no smoking weed at the concert.
Yes, you read that correctly. Smoking cannabis — at a cannabis music event, with a band singing a song about smoking cannabis — was strictly verboten.
Cannabis Growers of Canada President Chad Jackett was hustled and told to leave the concert area for smoking a joint. It was a non-smoking area. Keep in mind, we were all outside.
So Chad returned with thirty or more joints and handed them out to everyone. Now a haze of smoke was in the air as Sublime with Rome sang, “I smoke two joints in time of peace. And two in time of war. I smoke two joints before I smoke two joints. And then I smoke two more.”
Unable to quell cannabis smokers, security guards took to aggressing against cigarette smokers.
Security manhandled a woman who was smoking tobacco, leaving bruises on her arm. Meanwhile, beer flowed like water, people got drunk without consequence.
Perhaps because there was alcohol, the party went well beyond midnight and into the wee hours of the morning.
Most cannabis connoisseurs had gone to bed. The music finished, and a few all-nighters hung around the camp fire. But for the most part, noise was muted. Not entirely, for, this was a music festival, one with booze, but it wasn’t overly noisy.
Noise complaints weren’t on the radar until the next morning when security made it an issue.
On Sunday morning, everyone awoke to a thug security guard (and this was all caught on camera), telling major sponsors of the event, like Liberty Farms, the Green Ceiling, Skunk and Panda’s Shatter Shack, and the Great Canadian CannaMall, that they had to leave.
Leave, as in get out. Go — get off the property.
“It’s not as simple as that,” they tried to tell them. Contracts had been signed. There was a lot of money in this event. You can’t just unilaterally kick people out for a noise complaint you can’t prove.
One security guard kept pointing at Chad Jackett as an instigator. Chad, who doesn’t drink, had been in bed by midnight.
Security kept digging themselves into a hole. Even the other “rival” craft cannabis camps were coming out to defend their competitors.
“You threatened to kill me,” said one of the security thugs to CLN. We caught it live on camera, he was making false accusations.
The RCMP showed up and although they tried to remain neutral and assess both sides of the confrontation, it was clear, even to them, that the cannabis connoisseurs weren’t breaking any rules.
Surely, there must be a happy medium that would satisfy security without physically removing the major sponsors?
Evidently, there wasn’t. Security won out, the Great Canadian CannaMall and the others packed up and left. One person was arrested (also caught on camera).
Donnelly & Associates refused to speak to the accused. They literally wouldn’t talk to us. It’s as if they didn’t care.
The Bio Cup and other similar events are signals that, while we are winning the fight against prohibition, there is still lots of work to do.
We are far from protecting a craft market from the federal government’s expropriation.
And social taboos still exist, especially in the minds of wanna-be-cop security guards who think people will just obey their commands.
If this were a food-truck vendor event, or a craft beer event, having security kick out major sponsors would make headline news. It would, as one of the RCMP officers said, be a PR disaster for Donnelly & Associates.
But since this is cannabis — “illegal” craft cannabis — the repercussions may be less severe. This could get swept under the rug. And that’s not a good sign in this fight against prohibition.
The Bio Cup organizers have a lot of explaining to do, as does Donnelly & Associates and the security company they hired.
Note: The original version of this story misnamed the organizers of the Bio Cup as the Donnelly Group, the actual organizers are Donnelly & Associates and the story has been updated.