“We don’t have dealers with big bags of grass or hash,” he explained, “but the police still try to search out very small quantities that wouldn’t bother the authorities anywhere else in Germany.”

During the August 25-27 weekend, he said more than a couple of hundred police patrolled the site and searched tents as the crowd fell 2,000 short of the 20,000-plus he expected.

After the first day, a handful of festivalgoers had been arrested for possessing what added up to less than a couple ounces of marijuana.

A week before this year’s event, Koopmans told Pollstar he began to notice the Bavarian police’s heavy-handed approach wasn’t going well with the reggae lovers.

“I know they have a job to do but having so many policemen, which must cost the authority a few hundred-thousand euros, to search for the small quantities that people have for their own use seems ridiculous.

“If people had that amount or were smoking a joint in Hamburg or other northern German cities, the police would do no more than tell them not to have it in the street,” he added.

At the Scorpio chief’s Southside Festival, about 150 miles west, the police have a more liberal approach, but the site at Neuhausen ob Eck isn’t in the center of the right-wing Christian Social Union’s heartland.

Three years ago, Contour Music’s Klaus Maack had similar problems with his Summerjam reggae festival in Cologne, about a four-hour drive north of Chiemsee, after 50 people at the 30,000-capacity sellout event were caught with small amounts of cannabis and another 67 were seen smoking it.

Maack wondered whether he would be granted a 2003 license but, after meetings with Cologne’s Mayor Fritz Schramma and a few local councilors, the police adopted a softer approach.

In Bavaria, Prien am Chiemsee Mayor Christian Fichtl, who wants the event to be held on his patch, may find it harder to tone down the hardline exuberance of his police force.

Maack contemplated moving Summerjam away from Cologne, but Koopmans is reluctant to move Chiemsee because the site – near a Bavarian lakeside resort that attracts thousands of tourists each year – is the perfect setting.

Among the acts hoping Koopmans won’t have to watch his festival go up in smoke were Seeed, Steel Pulse, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Culcha Candela, Apache Indian, and Burning Spear.