Hempfest in US changes with marijuana legalization
SEATTLE (AP) — A few things will be different at this year’s Hempfest, the 22-year-old summer “protestival” in Seattle where tens of thousands of people gather to use marijuana openly, listen to music and gaze at the mountains.
It’s the first such festival after Washington and Colorado became the first U.S. states to legalize marijuana use by adults over 21. Having won at the state level, speakers will concentrate on the reform of federal marijuana laws, which still treat the drug as illegal.
The Seattle police — who have long been lenient with Hempfest participants — will be busy handing out Doritos chips for snacks.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, department spokesman. “It’s meant to be ironic.”
The department has affixed labels to 1,000 bags of Doritos urging people to check out an online “Guide to Legal Marijuana Use In Seattle.”
Organizers are expecting as many as 85,000 people each day of the three-day event, which begins Friday.
Officials are still writing rules for the new pot industry, with sales scheduled to begin next year.
“It’s going to be the most interesting Hempfest we’ve ever had because it’s going to be part victory celebration,” Hempfest executive director Vivian McPeak said.
McPeak said that to encourage the responsible use of pot, Hempfest will hand out cards with advice prepared by Roger Roffman, a University of Washington School of Social Work professor and marijuana dependence expert. The cards note that while marijuana is used safely by many people, it can cause short-term memory loss, affect the ability to drive and cause dependence.
“We hope people will take it more seriously coming from us than from a traditional messenger,” McPeak said.
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