ENCINITAS — A group that has arranged marijuana-smoking gatherings and bonfires at Moonlight Beach for a year is in the city’s crosshairs, after a resident complained about the monthly gatherings.
The group, known as San Diego Baked Adventures, has arranged full-moon bonfires where it invites members — who it says all have medical marijuana cards — to come to the city’s signature beach for stimulating conversation and good times.
“San Diego Baked Adventures is organizing to facilitate adventures for Prop. 215 compliant medical marijuana community members. It’s about fun, laughter and good times,” the group says on its Meetup web page. “You should join if you like fun times with chill people. If you like conversations that are deep and meaningful, punctuated by laughter and hilarity.”
The events have become increasingly popular and the crowds have grown as the weather has improved, which prompted a local woman to complain to the parks and recreation department in February about the swelling crowds and the marijuana smoking at the events.
She said the group was flouting the state law that allows marijuana use for medicinal purposes by recreationally smoking at the beach.
“These people are clearly smoking recreationally,” Jewel Loveless wrote in an email to city officials in February. The Coast News obtained the emails during a public records search pertaining to another issue. “I bet if you had your lifeguard or beach police come over to that crowd you would find that the majority of people do not have a (medical marijuana) card.
“I have a problem with them gathering at the beach and we all have to smell the marijuana from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the full moon,” Loveless continued. “I (sic) they should be told to leave the beach BEFORE OTHERS START TO COPY THEIR BEHAVIOR. If alcohol is not allowed then why should they be able to sit out in the open and SMOKE MARIJUANA?”
The email, sent to the parks and recreation department, prompted City Manager Karen Brust to have then-Marine Safety Capt. Larry Giles and Sheriff’s Capt. John Maryon look into the group’s gatherings to determine if any city codes were being violated.
According to an email Giles sent to staff on Feb. 17, which included a photo of one of the most recent bonfires, the group was violating a city ordinance that requires people to obtain a permit for groups larger than 25 people.
Craig Vollgraff, one of the group’s organizers, said that Maryon also contacted him in February, the first time the group had been contacted by law enforcement. He said the complaint was not based on the facts.
“There’s very little reality in the original complaint to the city by Jewels Loveless. If there were, don’t you think something would have happened in the 12 months we’ve been gathering at Moonlight Beach?” Vollgraff said. “We’ve had 843 members, 50 events, zero law enforcement involvement prior to the letter. You tell me.”
Vollgraff sent a missive to the group’s membership before its March 23 full-moon bonfire reminding them to have their medical marijuana cards and to RSVP for the event, as they would allow no more than 25 people at the bonfire at a time.
“We are capped at 25: This is an Encinitas Municipal Code. We’ve always been below this because a lot of people say they will show and don’t,” Vollgraff said in the email. “You know how that goes. Life happens. Plans change. We get that. We’ve never had to enforce it, but it’s Spring you know, and everyone wants to hang out and mingle. Can you blame them? Look at the weather!”
City officials were unable to respond to The Coast News request for comment before publication.