Marijuana festivals bring big money, some controversy to local communities – California News

Marijuana festivals bring big money, some controversy to local communities – California News




Brad Goukler procrastinated.

When the 32-year-old tried to book a hotel room less than a week before the big Chalice hash festival kicked off July 7 in the High Desert’s Victor Valley, he expected high rates. But not to be completely shut out.

“There are no hotels anywhere,” Goukler said as he rolled a joint with weed he’d purchased from a grower on Chalice’s opening day. “The entire valley is sold out.”

Goukler and his friends, who bought VIP passes for the three-day festival, opted to commute each morning from their homes in Orange County to Victorville. It’s an hour-and-a-half drive each way — without traffic. But they said it was worth it to enjoy the festival’s cannabis-friendly culture and big-name music acts like Ice Cube.

Victorville’s population jumps by nearly a third during Chalice weekend, with an estimated 30,000 guests and vendors coming to town from throughout Southern California, others state and as far away as Europe.

“Chalice sells out virtually every hotel within a 50- to close to a 100-mile radius for at least two nights,” said Geoff Hinds, CEO of the festival venue, San Bernardino County Fair’s High Desert Event Center. “And they’re not just staying at hotels.”

The Starbucks nearby was buzzing. Restaurants had long waits. There were lines at some gas stations.

“The whole town was busy,” said Bill Patel, manager of the New Corral Motel, which is a quarter-mile from the fairgrounds and sold out every night during the festival.

Chalice is among the top three biggest events on California’s cannabis festival circuit, which has expanded dramatically —…

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