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UPDATED: Marijuana Festival Lights Up Lawsuit Threat in Candler Park

Moviegoers enjoy an evening out during one of Candler Park's Movie Nights. PHOTO CREDIT: Friends of Candler Park
Moviegoers enjoy an evening out during one of Candler Park's Movie Nights. PHOTO CREDIT: Friends of Candler Park
CANDLER PARK — A pro-marijuana group that wants to use this neighborhood's namesake greenspace for a weekend festival next April, is threatening to sue a community group that already has dibs to part of the weekend in question.

The Coalition for the Abolition of Marijuana Prohibition — CAMP — sought and received approval from the city for use of the park on April 20, 2014, for its Great Atlanta Pot Festival. But the group's national coordinator, Paul D. Cornwell II, also wants use of the park on April 19, too.

The wrinkle: the Friends of Candler Park says the Mayor's Office of Special Events has already given the go-ahead to it to use the greenspace on April 19 for its annual Movie Night series.

In fact, the Movie Night series, which completed its sixth year, has approval for several consecutive Saturdays through May, FoCP says.

Cornwell disputes the FoCP's claim of approval for April 19.

In an e-mail to East Atlanta Patch, Cornwell wrote Mark Clement, who is FoCP president, have reserved all those consecutive Saturdays to prevent other spring festivals from taking place in Candler Park.

"I do have actual proof that he and others are reserving the Saturdays throughout the spring to prevent any more festivals in Candler Park in the spring, except theirs," Cornwell said.

In an e-mail to Mark Clement, Cornwell asked the Movie Night be moved.

"We have clear access to the park on Sunday April 20," Cornwell wrote in his e-mail dated Nov. 9. "I am asking that you consider moving your scheduled "Movie Night" to the Friday the 18th date or consider adding a date in June or July to your long list of reservations for Movie Night on Saturdays through the spring."

The weekend in question became available when the SweetWater Brewing Co., which has held its popular SweetWater 420 Festival in Candler Park for the last nine year, announced it will move the event to Centennial Olympic Park next spring.

April 20 or 4/20 is a reference to marijuana consumption.

"I am asking the City to grant us the permit for the entire weekend of April 19-20 and I feel we have a good argument for our access for the entire weekend," Cornwell's e-mail continued.

"Your attempt to prevent any spring events in the park is provocative at best. I am no foreigner to filing a legal challenge when appropriate."

Cornwell said that statement doesn't threaten a lawsuit; it simply means he has filed legal challenges when it necessary.

Nevertheless, Clement told Patch he saw it as a threat and characterized it as a "bully" move.

"They can’t bully us. It's first come, first served," he said, charging FoCP submitted its application first.

Both applications are stamped with a Office of Special Events receipt stamp of Oct. 18, though the FoCP submission where Clement signed is dated Oct. 17.

Clement said group also wanted Saturday, April 19 because it's closest to April 22 — Earth Day — and had already set up a theme centered around that.

"We respect his First Amendment rights and he should respect ours," Clement said. "We did everything by the book."

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