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Organizers focus on education during first Niles Cannabis Music Festival

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Marijuana took center stage at a historic local festival this weekend.

It was the first Cannabis Music Festival in Niles on Saturday.

Beyond music and marijuana, the event was about education.

Organizers and vendors were excited to share the health benefits of marijuana at the festival.

“We got over the pandemic, we're out here smoking, getting high, enjoying everybody's company,” said Fredrick Miller, Cannabis Festival host.

Hundreds gathered to hit high notes, enjoy munchies, and play games. But Niles Cannabis Festival organizers say it was focused on education.

“You know, you can't be a responsible stoner if you don't know what you're doing,” said Miller.

“For us it’s just another way to educate the community,” said George Pittenturf, Releaf Center head of sales.

Organizers provided 100 free tickets to the Niles Senior Center.

Another effort they say educates a generation that grew up with the negative stigma of marijuana.

Organizers hope to let that population know that cannabis might help certain conditions without bad side effects other medications may have.

“What cannabis does, it actually gives people their life back. It gives people their life back, so why would we not want to share that?” said Mel Spencley, Cannabis Festival co-organizer.

Beyond education, marijuana brings in the green for the local economy.

“It's a great way to bring people and money into this community as well. So we brought 7 dispensaries, 5 bands, 5 food trucks, we have 22 vendors,” said Spencley.

“Highly recommend, I was just thinking this on the way here, because of just seeing how many amazing local dispensaries there are here in Southwest Michigan,” said BJ Woodcox, Cannabis Festival attendee.

A festival that can blaze a trail for future events like it.

“Where we're at in 10 to 15 years, who knows, it just depends on how events like this continue to go and how us being in different municipalities make an effect in the community,” said Pittenturf. “We want to make sure we are here local, we're shopping local, we're buying local, that's one of the biggest things that can help.”

City leaders said this event is a test run for a larger cannabis festival planned for the fall.

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If they determine all rules and conditions were followed Saturday, that event in September can go forward.

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