Pennsylvania will gain about $7.9 million from marijuana permit applicants this year.
It’s sort of going to be like any other day in the park — inclusive, family friendly, relaxing. And that’s exactly what organizers want it to be — a day in the park where anyone of any age can listen to music, enjoy nature and be among thousands of friends.
Don’t let the name deceive you. The Pennsylvania Cannabis Festival is totally PG-rated. The April 18 and 19 two-day event in Kutztown will once again be drug, weapon and almost alcohol-free. While alcohol will not be served at the event, local wine and beer distilleries will be present and ready to offer up tastings for anyone of legal drinking age.
More than 15,000 people are expected at Renninger’s Farmers Market between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. for the event’s sixth year. Note this is a change of venue from past years. The event had previously been held in Scranton, but has outgrown that venue.
“Every year more and more people came,” according to co-organizer Jeff Zick. “To get 10,000 people to come to downtown Scranton was kind of monumental, and people would come from all over — from across the state, across the country — and we didn’t have the parking or space to accommodate them.”
That’s not surprising. A Gallup poll from fall 2019 says most in America agree with their cause of legalizing marijuana — 66% to be exact, and that the number is growing.
Food, music and more
The bands at the 2020 Pennsylvania Cannabis Festival will be mellow, according to Zick — offering a range of genres sure to appeal to the masses.
“We have a mix of rock, reggae,” Zick said. “A lot of good, local, mellow bands.”
That’s clear from their names: Wife Swamp, Ruck Zuck, The Sweet Life, and Medusa’s Disco, are among the acts performing.
There will be vendors: Munchies, tie dye and incense will be readily available. That’s just the start of the variety offered by a planned 150 vendors, including numerous advocacy groups.
Specifically, there’s going to be close to 30 food vendors, all unique and bidding for your tastebuds … be ready for some long lines, Zick joked.
But aside from a planned area for medical marijuana patients to legally medicate, there won’t be cannabis at “PennCannaFest.”
Zick hopes one day there will be. The “long-time” marijuana user, activist and co-organizer said the plant helps keep him calm and off pharmaceuticals. He’s a card-holding medical marijuana patient.
So for now, the cannabis festival is simply a day for like-minded people to gather, to relax in nature and to make their voices heard on an issue they care deeply about: Legalizing marijuana.
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Is it really a cannabis festival if there’s no cannabis?
According to Zick, it’s all about advocacy and community. The festival is a great party, sure, but the main point of the festival is education.
The official website for the event says it is a “public event to raise awareness for the legalization of cannabis in Pennsylvania.”
With all the major milestones in the world of weed this past year, one may be surprised to learn that the path to recreational marijuana legalization in Pennsylvania is still quite long.
Eleven states have already legalized marijuana for adult use. And in New Jersey, voters will be asked to answer a ballot question on legalization in November. Yet in Pennsylvania, it seems that things have stalled.
Senate Bill 350, which has come to be known as the “gold standard” legalization bill, is nothing short of a dream for cannabis advocates. The bill, introduced by Democratic state senators Sharif Street and Daylin Leach, faces some obstacles — it needs to find GOP support in a Republican-controlled Senate.
Leach is scheduled to speak at the festival along with several other advocacy groups trying to educate the public about their cause.
Those groups, much like Leach, want to change the law.
“In reality what it is is an educational experience focused on educating the public about this plant,” Zick said. “It’s been at least 80 years of propaganda against this plant, and now we’re figuring it out that most of that is wrong, and this is the place to facilitate that conversation.”
He hopes the event will affect real change and plans to direct the masses in attendance to call lawmakers about specific legislation at various times throughout the event.
But the day isn’t all work. It’s mostly about enjoying the company of others and having fun.
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