MARYLAND HEIGHTS, MO — Marijuana reform activists from Missouri were denied vending space during a weekend event at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, citing concerns that a booth promoting marijuana legalization could strain the venue’s relationship with the city and its police force.
Show-Me Cannabis, a Missouri organization that advocates for the reform of marijuana laws in the state, had submitted a vendor application for Pointfest, a multi-stage concert sponsored by local radio station The Point (KPNT 105.7 FM). The same radio station began airing a four-week ad campaign for Show Me Cannabis last week.
The organization had intended to hand out literature, generate interest for upcoming initiative campaigns, and sell t-shirts at the event.
Last week, a representative from the Live Nation-owned venue contacted Show Me Cannabis to inform them that their vendor application had been declined, citing fears that the Maryland Heights Police Department would shut the booth down for “advocating illegal activity.”
In response to the application being denied, Show Me Cannabis’ John Payne contacted the Chief of Police in Maryland Heights, Colonel William Carson, who acknowledged the organization’s First Amendment right to advocate for reform to Missouri’s marijuana laws, and that his department had not been contacted by Verizon Wireless Amphitheater or Live Nation representatives.
Payne then contacted the general manager of the amphitheater, D.J. Lindfors. Lindfors clarified the reason for the application’s denial, stating that the venue wasn’t worried that local police would shut the booth down, but concerned that allowing a booth advocating marijuana legalization would “strain the amphitheater’s relationship with the city and its police force.”
The Verizon Wireless Amphitheater employs many local police officers as part time security officers at the venue.
Lindfors added that while he personally favored reforming marijuana laws in Missouri, the venue was unable to allow Show Me Cannabis to partake in the weekend concert.
“This situation demonstrates the extent to which our prohibitionist cannabis policies stifle free speech,” Payne says about the incident. “I think Verizon Wireless Amphitheater’s fears are mostly unjustified. However, the mere fact that a major corporation is afraid to even allow a discussion about marijuana policy on its premises for fear of both government and social persecution speaks volumes.”
This was not the first time the organization had been declined by local businesses. Earlier this year, St. Louis radio station The Arch (WARH 106.5 FM) refused to run a Show-Me Cannabis radio advertisements for fear of sparking controversy.
Despite these setbacks, Payne remains optimistic. “Marijuana prohibition is such an obviously failed policy that the only way it can survive is for its proponents to completely shut down discussion of the subject. That tactic has worked for many years, and it appears fear of an open debate will keep us out of Pointfest. But there are more individuals, organizations, and media outlets that want to engage this issue now than ever before. The truth will come out, eventually.”
Representatives from the Verizon Wireless Ampitheater and Live Nation did not return our request for comment. The venue did, however, return fees paid by Show Me Cannabis for the vending booth.
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