UPDATED: SEPT. 12: High Times has not yet paid the City of Sacramento tax revenue generated from May event. High Times had told Sacramento the event would generate $200,000. A city official told me today only $60,000 was generated and that money has not yet been paid. “This event will generate roughly $200,000 in additional tax revenue for the City of Sacramento,” High Times lobbyist told me in May.
UPDATED: SEPT. 18: High Times’ permit application was removed from a council agenda today.
UPDATED: SEPT. 19: Video from Sacramento City Council meeting.
UPDATED: SEPT. 20: High Times has met its tax obligation, according to Sacramento Mayor Darrel Steinberg’s chief of staff, Kelly Fong Rivas.
Money promised for cannabis festival permit not paid.
BY ED MURRIETA
SACRAMENTO, CA — Was High Times blowing smoke when it pledged $140,000 to Sacramento community groups in order to receive the City Council’s approval for California’s historic first legal cannabis festival in May?
Is the world’s oldest and best-known media brand dragging its feet over payment while rushing news of an upcoming event, which has not yet received Sacramento’s approval?
Four months after pledging the money, High Times hasn’t paid a penny.
Now, two months before the world’s oldest and best-known media brand plans its next event in Sacramento, the Build Black Coalition is frustrated by High Times’ slow payment pace and is considering collection options, including legal action.
Build Black Coalition president Chet Hewitt said he’s frustrated by the delay. He said four months is an unusually long delay in his decades of experience working in Sacramento’s business and philanthropic communities. After his repeated attempts to collect the $100,000 pledged specifically to Build Black Coalition, he said, High Times told him last week that it would pay within 10 business days.
“It has taken far longer than I think anyone anticipated. We’re disappointed in the length of time this has taken. We are extraordinarily hopeful they will have met their requirements before their next event. We’ve been patient but if the proverbial crap hits the fan, then I think our position will be very, very different.”
In May, in a deal to secure a permit for its Cal Expo event, High Times pledged $140,000 to the Build Black Coalition and nonprofits that provide high-tech career training for minority youth in Sacramento neighborhoods affected by the federal War on Drugs.
Hewitt said he’s communicated mainly with High Times Sacramento political consultant Jason Kinney of California Strategies. He said he’s recently spoken with High Times CEO Adam Levine.
“High Times has a long history of social justice and community contributions,” said Jason Kinney of California Strategies, the powerful Sacramento lobbying firm that helped High Times negotiate with council members and city and state regulators told me in May. “High Times likes to do well but it also like to do good. They want to have a safe, successful and compliant event but they also want this to be a long-term signature event for Sacramento. Building community relationships is part of that.”
The Build Black Coalition is an umbrella organization of black activist groups that formed in the wake the March 18 death of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man who was shot by Sacramento police, America’s latest flashpoint for law-enforcement reform.
“Sacramento is kind of ground-zero for this social-justice/criminal-justice conversation,” Kinney said. “We were able to work with community groups to build support when it’s badly needed.”
Some of the money, $40,000, will fund nonprofits that teach high schoolers coding skills.
“We need more people of color in S.T.E.M programs and in other technology career pathways,” Kinney said. “Given that young black men and young Latino men have been disproportionately impacted by criminalization policies, it is every important that we do everything in our power to empower members of those communities. It’s not necessarily about transitioning to the cannabis industry.”
No payments to any such nonprofits have been announced.
High Times spokesman Jon Capetta told me payment delays are related to High Times initial public offering. He said High Times will make an announcement next week.
May 1, 2018 Sacramento City Council meeting in which High Times pledged $140,000 to community groups before winning the council’s approval 6-2.
Point in Sacramento City Council meeting in which Mayor Darrel Steinberg says this in regards to payment of High Times’ community pledge:
“Let’s put it this way: If they don’t pay the $140,000, they’re not coming back a second time.” .
Sacramento’s @Mayor_Steinberg‘s spokesperson speaking to me in email for his boss in re: High Times’ next event permit, its tax payment to the city and its obligation to pay community groups. pic.twitter.com/Dl6nlNeZ0k
— Ed Murrieta (@edmurrieta) September 20, 2018