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Lompoc greenlights public cannabis smoking events

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Temporary public events where people can buy and consume cannabis have been given the green light at three city parks in Lompoc.

Lompoc was the first city on the Central Coast to allow cannabis lounges, and now it may be the first to host ongoing public cannabis events at city-owned parks.

Mayor Jenelle Osborne said unlike many other communities, Lompoc is embracing the cannabis industry.

“We are taking a different approach than a lot of other communities," Osborne said."Some banned it completely, others allowed only manufacturing. So we did take a different perspective.”

Lompoc has 14 storefront dispensaries. And Osborne said the city will now allow two cannabis events per year at River Park, River Bend Park and Ken Adam Park.

She’s aware some people are concerned by the idea.

“There are still a lot of individuals that are uncomfortable with the concept of legalized cannabis and are frustrated by the number of dispensaries we have," Osborne said. "So introducing something to the community that is sort of on the cutting edge, is done with caution.”

Osborne said the events would be similar to beer and wine festivals. Attendance would be capped, the venue host would have to provide private security at a level ordered by police, and a medic would have to be on site.

Events would include conferences, trade shows and festivals centered on cannabis. Osborne said these events will help bring in much-needed money to the city.

“The parks are there for our families and our kids," Osborne said. "But we, as a town of 40,000, we have 200 acres of park. It’s expensive to keep them up and we are behind. One of the ways to make revenue is by leasing the parks to events. So this is another opportunity to generate revenue.”

Osborne said the events will be done on a trial basis.

“This is an industry that is trying to build a positive relationship with the communities they are in, and I expect them to respect our community when they do," Osborne said. "So I will be keeping a personal eye on it.”

A cannabis-themed festival or conference may not happen anytime soon, Osborne said, since it’ll take six to nine months for a permit to host an event to be approved.

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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