Kitchener-Waterloo

Ever After festival reveals cannabis rules, caps pot at roughly 20 joints per day

It's the first summer since cannabis became legal, and music festivals have to decide their rules on letting guests smoke pot. Kitchener's Ever After Festival is one of the first local festivals to reveal its pot plan, capping it at 20 joints per day.

Festivalgoers can bring in around 20 joints a day, organizer says

Fans, pictured at a Mumford & Sons concert at Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago. Local festivals in Ontario will have to decide how to address cannabis at their upcoming events this summer. (Scott Eisen/The Associated Press)

It won't be the first time someone's smoked a joint at a music festival, but it is the first summer since doing so became legal.

As the first round of summer festivals approaches, Kitchener's Ever After festival is one of the first local events to unveil its pot plan.

"We're embracing the new laws, and we are allowing patrons to bring in cannabis both into the festival and to the camping ground," said organizer Gabriel Mattachione, who is president of Beyond Oz productions.

Festivalgoers can bring in 10 grams of pot per day, but it has to be pre-rolled. Using standard issue joint sizing, with each joint being about half a gram, that works out to about 20 joints a pop, Mattachione said.

Campers have a bit more leeway, and can bring in as much as 28 grams of pot in either rolled or loose leaf form, he said.

"Because our camping's not truly inside the festival grounds ... we thought, 'Okay what would you be allowed to bring to your hotel?' and we used those guidelines as a parameter," said Mattachione.

Smoking and non-smoking sections

Smokers won't be able to light up willy-nilly, Mattachione said. They'll have to stay in a smoking section, which has capacity for about 900 people. 

Mattachione said the view from the smoking section is good but 'not the best,' and that it's mainly designed for people to smoke quickly and leave.

There is also a second smoking section in the VIP area, which will have a better view, Mattachione said.

Riverfest Elora, Hillside developing pot plans

Not all music festivals are taking this approach; some — like Riverfest Elora — said they will meet with the OPP, the township and other authorities before making any decisions. Others, like Hillside Festival in Guelph, are planning to rely on the goodwill of attendees. 

Due to Hillside's small venue, there aren't any designated smoking areas, but smoking is prohibited anywhere less than nine meters or "just shy of a school bus length" from eating or drinking areas, said Marie Zimmerman, the festival's executive director. 

Those areas will be well-marked with signs that say no smoking or vaping of any substance is allowed. 

"Most people are aware there's a spectrum of responses to smoking — especially in public places. So we're relying on their common sense but also their kindness and their compassion for other people."  said Zimmerman.

"Our festival-goers tend to be guided by intuitive benevolence, which we truly appreciate."

Smoking corrals 'extremely unattractive'

Gary Genosko, a professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology who's studied cannabis, called Ever After's plan as a "fairly sensible solution," and that treating cannabis in roughly the same way as tobacco is a popular strategy.

Still, Genosko said he wonders how well the smoking corrals will work in practice.

Organizers say those who try to smoke outside designated smoking areas risk being ticketed. (EverAfterMusicFest/Facebook)

"Let's face it, smoking pens and smoking corrals are extremely unattractive ... it depends on the weather how safe it is to access those places," Genosko said.

"It's hit and miss proposal, but now that we have essentially no smoking of anything inside any venue anywhere in most of Canada it's going to be difficult to find a compromise solution."

Mattachione said poeple who do try to smoke within the crowd, risk being ticketed. There will be paid police duty on-site, as well as tobacco enforcement officers sent by the region.

"We advise everyone to abide by the rules, but there's always some rule breakers in every crowd," he said.

With files from CBC's Jackie Sharkey

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