Sure, people have probably been getting high at music festivals since time immemorial, but thanks to Michigan’s adult-use cannabis laws, officially sanctioned pot-infused music events are on the way — as long as local municipalities allow them.
An event called “Spark in the Park” was planned for pot-friendly Hazel Park’s Green Acres Park on Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19 — but City Council voted the festival down on Tuesday, after this issue went to press, citing parking and capacity concerns, among other issues. Organizers say they now plan to hold the festival in a different city.
A music festival, Spark in the Park is being organized by the Michigan Cannabis Association, owned and operated by the Detroit-based Cannabis Counsel Law Firm.
Holice P. Wood, a booking agent and longtime cannabis activist, says he wants to create an event that harks back to metro Detroit’s classic rock era.
“In the ’60s and the ’70s, Detroit and local suburbs were filled with outdoor parks, and acts like Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, the Up, the MC5, and Iggy and the Stooges played these parks,” he says. “We’re bringing that back.”
The planned lineup on Saturday includes a mix of Motor City rock ’n’ roll (with acts like Thornetta Davis, Johnny Bee & the Murder Hornets, Pharaohs, and GiGi, a new project by Detroit Cobras guitarist Mary Restrepo), as well as national acts like Subatomic Sound System (the backing band of dub mastermind Lee “Scratch” Perry), the Rumble (made up of members of Grammy-nominated New Orleans funk band Cha Wa), and reggae great Bob Marley’s son, Julian Marley.
Sunday’s lineup is more hip-hop-oriented, with local acts Mollywap, My Detroit Players, Kid Vishus, Nick Speed, and Trick Trick, as well as national acts Ghostface Killah and Raekwon.
“It was important for me, during the programming, that Detroit really be shown,” Wood says, adding, “We’re trying to satisfy four or five generations of people that represent the cannabis community.”
Wood is billing the Spark in the Park event as “Michigan’s first craft cannabis consumption and retail music festival.”
A number of smaller events have been held around the state. But Wood says they are aiming for a crowd of 4,200 cannabis enthusiasts, and believes the event has the potential to grow.
“Ultimately, our goal is to take it to all of the green states,” he says. “We want to make this show happen, and get a good template so we can go to all of the green states and do the ‘Super Bowl’ of cannabis competitions.”
This year, the festival would fill somewhat of a void in the local cannabis event scene. Since 2011, High Times magazine has run a Cannabis Cup event in Michigan, a competition that doled out awards to local cannabis companies and growers and also included high-profile musical entertainment. But the event was only for medical marijuana patients until 2019, when adult-use cannabis events became legal. It was then canceled for the last two years due to the pandemic, causing High Times to switch to a “People’s Choice” model without the music festival component. This year’s High Times Cannabis Cup starts on April 16, when more than 3,000 judging kits will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis at participating dispensaries to anyone who wants to serve as a judge.
Meanwhile, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the local cannabis chain the Fire Station is planning a “Camp Cannabis” music festival in Marquette. The event is being billed as the U.P.’s first official cannabis consumption event, slated for Friday, Oct. 7 and Saturday, Oct. 8, a time chosen because the city’s cannabis event ordinance prohibits events from being held during the peak season.
The Fire Station owner Stash Wasik says the company decided to throw a cannabis event because Marquette had authorized them.
“The city allows them, and most of them don’t,” he says. “Most municipalities don’t allow that. So we wanted to take advantage of that.”
He adds, “We basically thought, OK, this is a great opportunity for us to bring people together and do something.”
He says a lineup of national music and comedy acts is anticipated, though none have been announced yet.
“It just ended up snowballing and getting much larger than we expected, which we are really excited about, just based on the demand, and like what people wanted to see,” he says. “It has increased our workload, and there’s going to be a lot of infrastructure that is going to have to go into something of this size. It’s not something we’ve done before.”
Stosh is billing the event as a “music, arts, and culture festival with cannabis,” he says. Cannabis retail vendors will be on-site, where people can purchase and consume cannabis at the event.
The event is slated for Tourist Park, the site of the long-running Hiawatha Music Festival, an acoustic music festival held since 1979.
Based on Hiawatha Music Festival, Stosh is aiming for a crowd of at least 3,500 people for Camp Cannabis, though he thinks it could draw as many as 5,000.
“We haven’t seen anything done in the state to this scale for a cannabis event,” he says. “We’re happy to be one of the pioneers.”
He adds, “This is definitely going to be the biggest music event that the city Marquette has ever seen.”
This story was updated to reflect that Hazel Park City Council voted down the Spark in the Park festival on Tuesday.