DEL MAR — The California Department of Food and Agriculture recently released guidelines for cannabis events at district agricultural associations, but there is still no guarantee such activities will take place at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
According to the guidelines, the 22nd District Agricultural Association, which operates that state-owned facility, should first adopt a formal policy. Before doing so, the agriculture department recommends holding a public hearing on whether marijuana events should be allowed.
The agriculture department recommends law enforcement be part of the discussion.
Although local city and county ordinances do not apply to district agricultural associations, “community values and standards” should be considered, as should potential federal enforcement of marijuana use and the facility’s proximity to schools, parks, youth recreation centers and other areas where minors gather.
If the board decides to allow cannabis events, the policy should state whether they should be for medical or adult use or both, if use should be permitted in designated areas and whether board approval of contracts is required.
Under California law, recreational cannabis users must be 21 and older. Even though the age for medical marijuana use is 18 and older, the state guidelines strongly recommend only people 21 and older be allowed in all use areas if they are permitted.
“Patients should be prohibited from sharing or distributing their … products for health and safety purposes,” the guidelines state.
Medical marijuana users must have a valid identification card or physician’s recommendation letter.
If cannabis is sold at an event, the vendor must have a state temporary license and all attendees must be 21 and older.
The organizer, before and during the event, should provide adequate notice of prohibitions to attendees through advertising and signage at the place and time of ticket sales, all entrances to the event and throughout the event area.
The notice should state that regardless of California law, “marijuana is a Schedule 1 controlled substance under federal law. Possessing or participating in the manufacturing, distributing, dispensing of marijuana is a federal violation and may be subject to federal enforcement.”
Security should be provided at each entry and exit point of the event and all use areas at all times.
Alcohol sales during an event where cannabis sales and use are occurring are prohibited, as are marijuana samples and donations. All cannabis events are considered a hazardous activity for insurance purposes so a $2 million coverage policy is required.
Marijuana smoking is not allowed where other tobacco smoking is prohibited. All smoking is prohibited at the fairgrounds during the San Diego County Fair, but allowed during other events.
Earlier this year Lawrence Bame of Westward Expos signed a contract, which was approved by fairgrounds CEO Tim Fennell but not the board, to hold an educational event about medical marijuana billed as the Goodlife Festival.
The board rescinded the agreement. Most members said they couldn’t support any use or promotion of marijuana products because even though medical and recreational uses are allowed in California, both remain illegal under federal law.
“The only government policy that I can follow is adherence to law and we clearly have a federal law that prohibits possession of marijuana,” Director Richard Valdez said at the time.
Directors also opted to defer establishing a 22nd District Agricultural Association policy on hosting cannabis-related events until the agriculture department came out with its guidelines.
“The board, through the Agriculture Committee, will work with staff to draft a policy specific to the 22nd DAA but following the guidance of CDFA,” Director Stephen Shewmaker said after the guidelines were released.
“We will invite public comment before bringing it to the board for a full vote,” he added. “I expect this will happen after the first of year.”
“I would encourage you to ban them (cannabis events) outright,” Carlsbad resident Kelly McCormick said at the November meeting.
Citing the recommendation to consider proximity to areas where minors congregate, McCormick said the fairgrounds is across the street from a miniature golf range and close to at least one church and three schools.
Cannabis smoking and use are illegal within 1,000 feet of schools, day care centers and other places where minors gather.
Earl Warren Middle School, Skyline Elementary School and Santa Fe Christian are all about 2 miles from the fairgrounds.