August 13, 2014 By Fred Gardner
Seattle’s first retail outlet for marijuana opened in July, some 20 months after Washington state voters passed Initiative 502. Legalization as defined by I-502 —which doesn’t apply to people under age 21— is now becoming real. How will law enforcement deal with underage smokers at this year’s Seattle Hempfest?
In the past, young and old would openly smoke herb as they strolled the 1.5-mile strip of parkland along sparkling blue (or drab gray) Elliott Bay. Seattle police would maintain neutral visages, which became friendlier over the years as it became obvious that smoking pot doesn’t make people violent. The Seattle Hempfest —which grew from a vigil protesting the Gulf War in 1991— has been like the forest in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a “green world” where the usual rules don’t apply. Friendliness and mutual respect are in the air, along with aromatic terpenes.
“The city has expressed concerns that Hempfest shares to some degree,” says lead organizer Vivian McPeak, “about young people smoking at the Hempfest and young people being exposed to smoking at the Hempfest. So we’re doing something a little historic. We have two fenced-off areas, not exposed to public view, in the southern portion of the event that will be adult smoking lounges. We’re going to ID people going in there. And we’re going to suggest and request that people 21 and over use those places to imbibe.
“Now I don’t expect that everybody’s going to do that this year,” McPeak went on, “but we’re introducing the concept. We’re cooperating with the city’s suggestion, because if we can make this work at the Hempfest, conceivably, at every large public event in the state of Washington there will be a place similar to a beer garden where adults will be able to smoke pot.”
This year’s Hempfest runs from Friday August 15 through Sunday August 17. Vivian McPeak does not expect any citations to be issued. O’Shaughnessy’s shares the Project CBD booth. “Be there or be in Dare.”