There were high times, and high attendance at Seattle’s Hempfest. Held August 16 – 18, Seattle’s Hempfest has long been a popular event with “indulgers” and non-indulgers alike. This year was no exception, with over 300,000 people passing through the entrances.
Seattle Hempfest is the world’s largest event advocating cannabis law reform. This annual event is held every August in Myrtle Edwards Park on the Seattle waterfront. Now in its 22nd year, this is the first year in which cannabis is actually legal. And, since I just happen to be in Seattle… I pretty much had to go.
A group of friends and I took the West Seattle Ferry to Pier 50 and walked the 2 miles it took to get to this year’s newest entrance, The Steven Colbert Bridge To Somewhere.
This entrance was smooth sailing. The line wasn’t long, and it moved fast. It also has a great view over the park, and Elliott Bay, and it puts you smack dab in the middle of Munchie Market, and Stone Village. Seriously. Those were names of this area. And,if you guessed that these were food vendors, you’d be correct.
How did the Seattle Police Department deal with Hempfest? The handed out bags of Doritos with stickers on them summarizing the do’s and don’ts of I-502 (the Initiative that legalized cannabis for recreational use). The point was to educate attendees about the marijuana laws. I loved this! I think the idea was humorous, and I love the positive attitude of the SPD at this event. However, they fell short on one thing. The Doritos ran out in the first 10 minutes.
Maybe that’s due to this event being a kind of a non-event’ for them. Yes, they were directing traffic, and others were posted in strategic positions “watching out.” However, there has never really been any major situations at Hempfest.
Police spokesman Mark Jamieson has been quoted as saying, “Actually, Hempfest is one of the easier events that we do. We haven’t had any major problems since Seattle’s been doing Hempfest.”
As I walked around, I found it to be pretty much as it had been in years past, lots of food stalls, average bands (based on my music taste), marijuana paraphernalia, and hippie couture made in Thailand. A few of the noticeable exceptions were; there appeared to be fewer petitions to sign. In fact, I wasn’t asked to sign one petition in the 2 hours I was there. It also seemed that I saw more people openly smoking. People have always smoked marijuana at these events. However, they “hid” out on the rocks. As it was then and as it is now, from all appearances the SPD really had no intentions of doing anything about it.
The biggest commotion, to me, seemed to be around event organizers kicking out the man who was attempting to roll the World’s Largest Joint. This begs the question, “Was he high when he thought up this idea?”
I expected this year’s vibe to be over the top in its cool factor, and I certainly thought we’d hear rumors of celebrity attendance. Something to make it not just another hippie type event that people smoked marijuana at. Marijuana is legal. If the “cause” (in Washington State) has been won, is there a reason to keep attending? Is there still a feeling of camaraderie around an issue? Time will tell if attendance will continue with its steady growth. But for me, as a one-time Seattle local, who has attended two of these festivals in the past, I came, saw, got a Hawaiian Shaved Ice (Blue Bubble Gum ), got bored, and left.