Cannabis zones an early success at Whoop-Up Days: event organizers

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Cannabis zones an early success at Whoop-Up Days
WATCH ABOVE: For the first time, concert-goers at Whoop-Up Days have the option to smoke cannabis in two fenced-off zones. Danica Ferris has more on the early response to the addition. – Aug 21, 2019

The StagEX grounds at Whoop-Up Days feature an extra addition this year: two cannabis consumption zones.

After one night of use, festival organizers said they are happy with the early response from concertgoers.

Mike Warkentin, chief operating officer of Exhibition Park, said there were no issues at Tuesday’s opening night, which was headlined by country singer Corb Lund. He added that organizers don’t anticipate any major issues.

“Based on the feedback we’ve received from when we initially launched the policy, and then from the event last night, we don’t anticipate any cannabis-related issues here during the week,” Warkentin said.

Speaking to guests of the park, the main concern with the cannabis zones centred on proximity to children. But Warkentin said making sure marijuana smokers were a fair distance away from kids was a key factor in deciding where to place the cannabis consumption zones.

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Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) requires that minors keep their distance from such sites.

“The sites themselves need to be alcohol-free and minor-free,” Warkentin said. “So we do have guards positioned at each of the sites, [who] don’t allow alcohol to pass and make sure that no one underage is going into them.”

Whoop-Up Days did not require a licence for the cannabis zones because, unlike a beer garden, guests bring in their own cannabis. However, the event was required to meet AGLC’s requirements, which also included that the sites be at least five metres away from food and beverage service.

The zones also need to comply with provincial bylaws.

READ MORE: Annual parade to kick off Whoop-Up Days turns into sea of green

Warkentin said Whoop-Up Days organizers had the advantage of their event being later in the summer than most.

“We actually have the very good fortune of being kind of the culmination of summer festivals,” he said. “So we had the opportunity — because, of course, this is new to all of us in the fair and festival world — to examine what other people did and see what worked and didn’t work.”

Warkentin cited the Calgary Folk Festival as a major event that he and others watched earlier in the summer when they introduced cannabis zones.

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Marijuana is only allowed in the designated zones during StagEX times, beginning at 6:30 p.m. each evening on the Whoop-Up Days grounds.


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