Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Seattle Times: Hempfest fans rockin' the joint

Spontaneous drum circles, stick jugglers wearing jester hats and a raffle for a 3 ½-foot-tall bong.

It must be Hempfest.

When the festival ends today, organizers expect the gathering — billed as "the world's phattest protestival" — to have drawn as many as 150,000 attendees to Myrtle Edwards Park for free concerts, pro-pot speeches and a milelong strip of hemp-based shopping opportunities. In the market for "hemp litter for small pets"?

The event, now in its 14th year, aims to decriminalize marijuana and legalize domestic hemp production. It's illegal to grow hemp — a cousin of marijuana — in the United States. But products made from it — such as paper, soap and granola mix — are legal to sell and consume. However, some consider the peasant skirts and ponchos commonly made from the fibers to be crimes of fashion.

Amid the rope jewelry and $5 brownies yesterday, the medical marijuana movement took center stage with a speech by Angel Raich of California. Raich was the chief litigant in the U.S. Supreme Court case that earlier this year upheld the federal government's power to prosecute patients who smoke marijuana — and the people who grow it for them — despite state laws, including Washington's, that allow medicinal use.

By Julia Sommerfeld
Seattle Times staff reporter


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