Yes, the new state law allows you to smoke marijuana on private property and possess about an ounce of weed if you are at least 21.
And yes, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is being held on private property, at the Empire Polo Club in Indio.
But no, even though marijuana and concerts are as synonymous as brownies and milk, you cannot bring marijuana to the concerts set for April 14-16 and April 21-23. It’s not against the law, but it is against the policy set forth by concert promoter Goldenvoice.
Indio police Sgt. Dan Marshall explained the cage battle between law and policy this way:
“The promoter has a standing right to the property, and they can determine what can and cannot be brought onto the premises,” Marshall said. “(For instance) you have the right to bear arms, but you don’t have the right to bear arms in my house.”
So we direct you to the concert’s website, Coachella.com, where it says drugs are not allowed (some non-marijuana prescriptions are OK) and answers this frequently asked question:
“I have a medical marijuana card and need to medicate daily … cool?”
“Sorry bro. Medical marijuana cards are not valid at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. Even in 2017 and beyond. If that changes so will this answer.”
Security will place “amnesty boxes” at the entrances where concertgoers who forgot they have that marijuana or meth stash in their backpacks can deposit their contraband, no questions asked.
Police would appreciate it if you didn’t try to steal the amnesty boxes.
State laws on drug possession will be enforced inside the gates, Marshall added. But for anyone who overdoses, the emphasis will be on getting him medical attention and not busting him or his friends, Marshall said.
Getting around the law
State marijuana laws also say that pot can’t be smoked in a public place. But what is a public place? A concert with tens of thousands of fans on private property? That’s a question for lawyers, Marshall said.
In Colorado, where in 2012 possession and consumption of marijuana in private were legalized for people at least 21 years old, lawyers are used to dealing with this question.
The Colorado Symphony Orchestra thought allowing patrons to smoke marijuana at its performances would increase ticket sales. So it created a cannabis-themed concert series. Problem was, the Denver city attorney said the concert venue was a public place even though a ticket was required and wanted the symphony to cancel.
Symphony officials were able to strike a deal with the city attorney, however, to stage the concerts by making them invitation-only, rather than open to ticket buyers.
That seems to be the tactic being taken by some Coachella-area entrepreneurs.
Get Lit, to be held at a “secret location” in Indio, is a free event with music, food and pot open to festivalgoers with wristbands who must register on the Get Lit website in advance.
“This 3-day event will feature some of SoCal’s finest cannabis companies who will be bringing their best buds, edibles and products to patients who want to medicate in a safe, fun environment,” the website says
Doors will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and again 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Then there’s the blowout that TMZ says is being staged for “VIP guests” by Weedmaps, a mapping service that helps people find marijuana dispensaries and doctors who prescribe it.
The compound, as it is described, will feature two grow houses and five geodesic domes where different strains can be tested.
“So clearly organizers are trying to entice some Coachella-goers to in-house shop, although all weed products are being given away, not sold,” TMZ says.