Smokin’ Santa Cruz Fest

Despite an existing smoking ban in parks, officials in Santa Cruz, Calif., are making an exception for an upcoming festival that will allow some concertgoers to smoke marijuana.

The Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana festival, an annual event for the last 14 years, was founded to raise awareness and funding for medical marijuana programs and the WAMM cooperative based in the city.

Current municipal code prohibits lighting up in "city parks, beaches, recreational trails and other outdoor recreation areas" that are designated nonsmoking, one of which is San Lorenzo Park, the marijuana festival’s venue.

WAMM’s founders told the mayor they feared the ban would keep patients who need to medicate from attending the fest, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.

But city leaders apparently weren’t looking to put an end to organizers’ nice dreams and have instead sided with the group, to the chagrin of some anti-drug advocates.

"I think there’s a solid basis for supporting this group," council member Mike Rotkin told the Sentinel. "They’re pretty selfless folks. It’s not like they’re out there profiting off other peoples’ medical needs."

Medical marijuana patients will be allowed to smoke inside a tent for five hours during the festival.

Rotkin told the paper the council doesn’t see the temporary exemption as out of the ordinary, as officials would likely make similar concessions for other groups affecting positive changes in the community.

"If the boy scouts wanted to have a sleep out in Harvey West Park, we’d say yes," he said, alluding to a citywide ban on camping in parks. "WAMM falls into that general category."

Artists for the September 29th festival included Hipshake, Diane Patterson, Mark Levy, Dub Congress, John Malkin and Soul Majestic.