California is one of the most liberal states in the nation, and the small town of Arcata is well-known for its annual pro-legalized-weed festival that attracts tens of thousands of marijuana advocates worldwide. When event coordinators continued to have run-ins with local politicians in recent years, several local activists decided to take the case to court.
In 2014, Gregory Allen is other Arcata residents made claims that local politicians were intentionally trying to sabotage the yearly festival with a strange series of odd occurrences. One year, the festival was canceled due to a “tree-climbing” operation that mysteriously appeared on the township’s calendar on the very same day. Another year, Allen claims that city officials dumped "2,000 pounds of smelly fish-emulsion fertilizer in the park to deter the 420 celebrants." And yet another time, organizers of the 4/20 party arrived to the park on the day of the event only to witness the gates padlocked against entry.
9th Circuit lays down the hammer
These allegations of misconduct were fully detailed in a previous 2014 lawsuit which was later thrown out of court. The presiding judge apparently believed that the alleged injuries listed by the plaintiffs fell well outside of the two-year statute of limitations. However, in late May 2017, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s ruling, which now allows Allen and his team of weed-friendly supporters to file another lawsuit.
“Allen may be able to establish that he suffered an injury-in-fact that is not time-barred by sufficiently alleging that he was deterred from attending 420 celebrations in 2013 and 2014 in response to defendants’ conduct that closed Redwood Park to 420 celebrants these years.”
-9th Circuit Court of Appeals
Judges on the 9th Circuit who issued the pro-vaping ruling and opened the door for future lawsuits by Allen and his team include U.S. Circuit Judges William Canby Jr. and Mary Murguia along with the visiting judicial member U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe from Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, the city of Arcata has also hired legal counsel to represent their side of the newly revamped court case, which is yet to be officially filed in court.
Arcata is located just outside of Eureka, California, and right smack in the middle of the Emerald Triangle, a region in the northern part of the state that is considered the largest weed-producing community of the United States. Arcata is also the home of Humboldt State University.