Organizers clarify Recreational Marijuana’s role at Ohio Cannabis festival

Organizers clarify recreational marijuana’s role at Ohio cannabis festival

Recreational Marijuana to Feature at Ohio Festival Despite Legal Hurdles.

After making changes to the website advertising a Meigs County marijuana festival in its first year, the team behind it spoke to NBC4 to explain how recreational cannabis will appear there.

An earlier version of the Stargazer Cannabis Festival’s website — preserved by the Wayback Machine — advertised a farmer’s market as a component of “three days of love and weed” from July 26 to 28. Against a video backdrop of rows of marijuana plants, a logo advertised baked goods, seeds, flowers, seedlings and “all your favorite cannabis products and supplies.”

But Chad Thompson, the agent for the company behind the festival, told NBC4 in a Thursday interview that his team wasn’t referencing recreational marijuana in the ad.

“Everything that we talked about there is all available in legal products,” Thompson said. “So there is low THC and it’s classified as hemp … in reality, those products are made from legal cannabinoids from hemp plants, so there are hemp flower companies in Ohio that are going to be there.”

The advertisement for the farmer’s market did not use words like hemp, CBD or Delta-8. But Thompson said he assumed people knew that the language pointed to the cannabis variation with less than 0.3% THC.

“I didn’t put a ton of time into thinking about that. … We are celebrating the cannabis plant and you know, I guess just in my mind it was a given that we were going to be completely compliant and legal,” Thompson said. “We just thought it was pretty obvious we would have legal products, and I did notice like in some communities online, like Reddit and so forth, people did understand that that’s exactly what we’re what we’re having. You know, I guess not everybody actually knows the law, but it’s a well-known fact that you can’t sell.”

Since then, the organizer — also involved in the Sensible Movement Coalition — decided to remove the farmer’s market advertisement from the festival website.

“We had some backlash from the event site just based on what they thought came from us,” Thompson said. “Quite honestly, it caught us by complete surprise when we’ve seen that and we didn’t want any other misunderstanding or any other articles.”

Jason Shambo, a spokesman for the Wisteria Campground where Stargazer is being held, also said that only cannabis products legal under the U.S. Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 would be sold at the festival. This bill cleared industrial hemp plants and products for growth, sale, transportation and consumption at the federal level.

Some of the products Stargazer Festival intends to host sales for may not be legal forever. Since the start of 2024, Gov. Mike DeWine has put what he called “intoxicating hemp” in his sights, calling on the Ohio Legislature to ban it. In January, he detailed a sting operation that saw minors purchasing Delta-8 candy from a gas station in the state.

“It is intoxicating, it is something that needs to be banned, and again, the legislature could ban it,” said DeWine. “These hemp products can be sold anywhere in the state of Ohio, and we have no jurisdiction, we have no laws to prohibit that, we can do absolutely nothing.”

Recreational marijuana will still have a presence at Stargazer in other forms. Thompson noted that vendors will also be allowed to sell cannabis seeds, legal even at the federal level, and which Ohioans can grow up to six plants with under the state’s current law. Festival-goers will be allowed to use their homegrown marijuana at the campgrounds as well.

“I’m sure that there will be attendees that have legal cannabis with THC and will be consuming it, but there’s going to be no person-to-person sales,” Thompson said.

There will also be a festival-sponsored event that permits attendees to use their own marijuana. On Saturday, competitors will engage in a joint-rolling contest.

“It’d be completely legal to be homegrown cannabis, or they may roll it with hemp or they may not, I’m not gonna ask,” Thompson said. “We’re not going to smoke the joint, it’s actually a contest on the art of rolling the joint itself … maybe we’ll get some cross joints or some swans.”

Thompson added that as of Friday, sales on Stargazer tickets — priced at $80 per person to camp, $130 to camp by their car or $180 to camp with an RV — “just went through the roof.”

“It really kind of caught fire throughout the state. … I definitely think that we won’t even make it to get to sell tickets at the gate,” Thompson said. “I think it’s going to sell out even before the event.”

The announcement of Stargazer Festival’s launch comes as industry players simultaneously anticipate the start of recreational marijuana sales in Ohio. On the growing side, Cresco Labs in Yellow Springs has already planted its inaugural crop of marijuana intended for recreational sales. And medical marijuana shops like Sunnyside in Chillicothe have already signaled intent to apply to become a dual-use dispensary.

All of this motion on the recreational front has come after a lawmakers’ committee hinted that sales could start faster than anticipated. The Division of Cannabis Control proposed the state’s medical dispensaries could apply to also sell recreationally, with licenses going out by September 7. But when lawmakers approved the DCC’s plan, they went a step further, telling reporters that licenses authorizing sales to start could arrive sooner.

“I think we will see that by mid-June,” said Republican Rep. Jamie Callender, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review. “I’m hoping that’s the case.”

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Region: Ohio

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