Niles Cannabis Festival hashes out details with city

NILES – Mel Spencley is excited to get Niles’ first official cannabis festival right, which some have called “a mini Woodstock.”

On Monday evening, the Niles City Council voted six to two to allow a Niles Cannabis Festival to be hosted in late July by organizers Michigan Cannabis Festival. Council members Georgia Boggs and Bill Weimer voted in opposition.

Spencley attended the virtual meeting and said she celebrated when she heard the vote.

“We really want to be the first that does this and show that this can be fun for all ages 21 years and older,” Spencley said. “We want to make sure everybody comes in safely, and everybody leaves safely.”

Spencley said the event will be a single day event, taking place from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., on a to be announced date in late July. The attendance will be capped at 500 people.

The event will be partnering with local dispensaries to work on its invite-only ticket sales, as well as inviting local representatives like council members from Niles, Buchanan and Saugatuck.

Spencley said she hopes to address the stigma around cannabis and cannabis events by inviting representatives to attend.

“We can help people out and make it something fun and educational,” Spencley

said. “We can bring the community together.”

The festival will host food trucks, a yoga class, music – including jazz and country performances — local dispensaries and brands able to do business on the grounds.

The festival grounds will be completely fenced in, allowing for cannabis consumption and brands to vend on the property.

Spencley said she spoke with the Niles Fire Marshal about the cannabis consumption containment options. Originally, the organizers thought a tent might work.

“The fire marshal does not want a tent with sides on it,” Spencley said. “They are looking at it as a fire hazard. As long as [the grounds] are fenced in, attendees can consume cannabis.”

The state of Michigan’s temporary marijuana event license application must be filed 90 days prior to the proposed event.

On Tuesday, after the city council vote, event organizers from Michigan Cannabis Events spoke with city leaders about their concerns.

“I understand the polices’ concerns,” Spencley said. “One concern that was the people at the very end will want to hurry up and grab a last couple of [cannabis] hits. I totally understand that, but if they think about an alcohol tent – we can do a last call and say nobody can consume [cannabis] after 9 p.m. before we close at 10 p.m.”

She said much of the same protocols, as if alcohol were to be involved in the event, will be in place for the festival.

“It’s no different than a bar. You’re not going to send someone home on the road [if they are not sober],” she said. “You don’t want anyone driving when they are super tired. We’re going to make sure we do the best we can.”

Spencley said she and the other organizers with Michigan Cannabis Events have enjoyed working with the city of Niles through officials’ and residents’ concerns.

“We want Niles to be first. They’ve been very welcoming, very warm, willing to hear us out and willing to take the chance,” Spencley said.

If all goes well with the first festival, with the limited attendance due to the inaugural nature and COVID-19 mandate uncertainty, Spencley said organizers hope to host a larger event potentially in the fall.

Spencley said those interested in becoming involved with the festival can reach out by email to MICannabisEvent@gmail.com.

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