Two of the biggest stages at the High Times NorCal Medical Cannabis Cup got their sound systems shut down by local police on Sunday. This interference from the law is not only disruptive to the what many consider a major draw of the cup – live acts by big known musical artists in a party setting – it also taints the air of future gatherings, where what are supposed to be compliant medical or legal cannabis events are interrupted by police as if they were criminal activities.

The first witness to the shut down we talked to was Tink, a cannabis salesperson and model who was working at Vader Village Sunday afternoon. For those who don’t know, Cannabis Cup grounds are made up of booths occupied by different vendors. Some vendors rent larger spaces than others and some pay a premium to have a stage on the grounds where they can host live events. Vader Village has one of those stages.

According to Tink, right around 4:20 p.m. as Vader’s musical guest Lil Debbie was performing to a full crowd and Too Short was preparing to follow her, police started grouping outside the chain link fence that surrounds the Cow Palace festival grounds where last weekend’s event took place. Tink said the cops were watching the crowd and grabbing the fence like “they were going to crawl over.”

At this time, event staff approached the Vader booth workers and said they were going to have to pull the plug on the sound system. Vader representatives argued that they had paid High Times for the stage and sound system and had a right to continue the show with their headliner Too Short.

Tink said the cup staff then let the police into the medicated area. Patients, upset by the officers’ presence started crying out, “Fuck the police!” The cops retaliated by threatening the crowd with a pack of DEA agents who were waiting just outside the festival grounds (these DEA agents might or might not have been real).

Then, either the police or the festival staff shut off Vader’s generator and the police handcuffed the generator door to prevent anyone from opening it and turning it back on, as seen in this IG post from @pariskush:


The stage was effectively shut down for musical purposes and Too Short cancelled his performance. Meanwhile, a similar situation occurred at Crown OG’s Crown Town stage.

It’s been difficult to determine what exactly was the cause for the police’s entry or the desire on the part of the festival staff to shut down the life of the party.

One extractor told us via Instagram direct message: “High times was asked for both stages line ups [for Crown Town and Vader Extracts] a week before the show to make sure security wasn’t an issue… Due to the fact another artist rushed the gate who wasn’t allowed on the property they shut all the stages down.” We asked which artist and the extractor said, “I’m not sure. I’ve heard a few diff names.”

We’ve tried to reach out to High Times for insight into these happenings. An email to one higher up at the company resulted in our being forwarded to someone else and multiple emails to that someone else have not been replied to at the time of this article’s publication.

While we haven’t heard this exact story before, it isn’t totally unfamiliar either. It’s the hushed-up-ness of it that rings a bell. Something about the stage’s practices were deemed unlawful, but nobody knows what exactly. As far as we’ve heard, no one was arrested during the incident but, as far as we’ve heard, no one even knows for sure why the police felt they needed to get involved at all. And the people who run the festival have chosen not to address the problem publicly, so it looks like no one is going to know.

There will be another Cup in Clio, Michigan this August. And will the thinking be that as long as vendors and patrons tiptoe around the law, no one will wake it up and get bit? There was this inexplicable show of police force last weekend. At Denver’s 4/20 Cup, there was the expectation that vendors might get prosecuted for giving out samples (even though they weren’t), and then there were the busts at Hempcon last month.

All of these events came about because the laws were interpreted and enforced inconsistently. No one can know what for sure will be allowed and not allowed in Clio. They just know that if they’re compliant enough, they probably won’t be charged.

But, to settle down for a second, police presence at these festivals isn’t all bad. Sunday at the cup, rig manufacturers Dabber Box had most of the stock at their booth ripped off. This photo comes via their IG @dabberbox:


Dabber Box told us, “… the police handled it like they should have. They did a report and gave us their info to follow up.”

So maybe that rally cry back at Vader Village should have been, “Fuck some of the police!” Or maybe, “Fuck some of the police some of the time! Why don’t they just tell us explicitly and exactly what we can and can’t do so we all stay out of trouble? Thanks for helping out when thieves got up into the booths!”


Top photo courtesy of Vader Extracts

Parker Winship