Somerset police chief raises safety concerns with marijuana festival

SOMERSET — The Cultivator’s Cup, a new event in Somerset this year meant to celebrate cannabis cultivators, is still without an alcohol license for the event’s concert portion with less than two weeks to go, as town officials raised concerns about potential safety issues.

“We don’t want this event to turn into a tragedy,” Selectmen Allen Smith said at a meeting last week.

Last Wednesday, Ed Dow, CEO of local dispensary Solar Therapeutics, spoke during the selectmen’s meeting to request a special alcohol license for next Saturday, Sept. 4, as part of the Cultivator’s Cup, which his company is sponsoring. The alcohol license would be meant for a music festival during the second day of the two-day event, which will be held near Solar Therapeutics’ facility at 1400 Brayton Point Road.

Security company also works with Boston Calling music festival 

Dow presented a safety plan for the music festival, which he said will draw around 2,000 people. He said he has hired more than 30 security workers from Beowulf Security, the same company that does security for the Boston Calling music festival, who will work the event alongside about 15 security guards who work for Solar Therapeutics.

Concert planned: Cypress Hill, Method Man and Redman to headline Somerset cannabis culture festival

“We believe that we are over-prepared for this event,” he said.

During the meeting, selectmen and Police Chief Todd Costa raised concerns about details of the plan. Smith said he was worried about exits not being visible enough, and invoked the Station nightclub fire that killed 100 people in Rhode Island in 2003, partially because of a bottleneck of people rushing to leave through the main exit.

Town welcomes new chief: By unanimous vote, Todd Costa appointed Somerset police chief

“People tend to want to come out the way they came in,” he said.

Costa raised concerns about patrons potentially consuming marijuana on-site, possibly while also drinking alcohol, then leaving to drive through Somerset and neighboring communities.

“It’s a cannabis event that also has music. I imagine that many of the people who will be in attendance by the very nature of the event will have some sort of affinity for cannabis,” he said.

Costa told selectmen he did not endorse the application for a temporary alcohol license.

Packets of cannabis to judges

Dow pushed back on Costa’s objections, stressing that, while the Cultivator’s Cup competition portion includes sending packets of cannabis to judges to be consumed on private property, the music festival is not intended as a place for attendees to consume the drug.

He pointed out that the music festival is a 21+ event, and that tickets started at $90.

Complaint over billboard: Why Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat creator, is suing this Somerset marijuana dispensary

“This is not a hemp rally. It’s not the events that I think Chief Costa is worried about where it’s flying in the face of law enforcement and people are opening smoking bongs in public,” he said. “We’ll actively clamp down on that.”

Dow said he would be willing to refine the safety plan and make changes to the event to limit the likelihood of patrons being inhibited, like cutting off alcohol sales earlier than initially planned or ending the music festival earlier in the day.

“We’ll scale it back, we’ll slice and dice it,” he said.

The selectmen did not outright deny the request for an alcohol license, but opted to table the matter until their next meeting, which is Wednesday, Aug. 25. 

“I’m not saying no, I just would like to see more detail,” Smith said.

The Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a public hearing Thursday, Aug. 26, to consider Solar Therapeutics’ petition for a permit to conduct an outdoor music festival with staging, tents and other infrastructure.

Audrey Cooney can be reached at Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News today.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.