I would think about this year's Hempfest randomly during the school year. Then I somehow almost forgot about it over the summer until I was randomly reminded of it. Unfortunately, I was really low on money, but with a loan from a friend (thankyousoverymuch!), I was able to attend. I took a couple of buses from Bellingham ($5.50 in total). I lucked out and was able to find a cheap hotel for both nights (great service at the Ace Hotel). I came into Seattle not knowing if I was going to be able to find a place to stay or find a way back to Bellingham (fortunately, I didn't have to stress too much).
A few days prior, I spent $200 to become a VIP. Why did I do this? Not only am I, in reality, a very important person, but I figured it would be useful for even more networking. It's something I recommend. If you don't want to spend that much money, consider becoming a supporter for $30, or a member for $60. Plus it was nice skipping the huge line...also it boosted my ego when people asked me about my VIP card.
Right as I went in, I visited booth after booth handing out my business card. After a couple of hours, my phone ran out of battery and I was feeling very exhausted from my early morning trip that I went back to my hotel room to charge my phone and take a nap. Refreshed after a couple of hours of sleep, I went back to Hempfest and continued with my networking. I kept the WWU SSDP page somewhat up-to-date. There was a couple of jerky booths, and I tried gator jerky. It was very good.
One of the booths I visited was the one set up for the children's book "If a Peacock Finds a Pot Leaf", which I had read about in Northwest Leaf. I will do a review on the book later, but it is a book to explain medical marijuana to children. Morgan, the author, had to experience her mother (Geneva, the illustrator) telling her not to tell anyone that she did this, and, from the other side, hear her friends and school talking about how bad marijuana is. I feel that this is a good tool to help explain the subject of drugs to kids, without having to rely on the programs, like D.A.R.E., that teach in a biased, one-sided way. I asked how much the book cost, and Geneva replied, "For you, it's free," and wrote a note. She then proceeded to draw, and said, "I don't do this for everyone." Both she and her daughter signed.
I was able to visit all the booths in that one say. Well, I mean the ones I was interested in. It made me wonder if I had to stay until Sunday like I had planned. After the normal festivities of the first day, I attended the VIP after-party. I am so glad I went. Free food and wine. I guess even more networking was a plus. Free vaporizers were given out. One of the many free items from attending Hempfest I won't really be using. I took a cab to my hotel afterwards - the first time doing so by myself. That weekend made me feel like more of an adult.
That night I had very strange dreams. When I woke up, I was glad to learn that another room in the hotel had opened up, meaning I could spend another night. At noon, I headed to Hempfest again. I mostly spent the first couple of hours listening to bands and guest speakers, including Senator Mike Gravel.
By the time some of the guest speakers were onstage, including the Senator, my friend and his brother had joined me. One of the speakers...boy, was he loud. The only good thing about his speech is that he caught people's attention. Let's just say by the time he was finished, I said to my friend, "Now I know what it's like to listen to Hitler."
Really, some of these motherfuckin' guest speakers...the ones who yell into the microphones without any real substance in their speeches are the people who get the best reactions from the audience. On the other hand, the worthwhile speakers who talk sense, while they may or may not speak charismatically, get only polite applause from the non-stoners. Don't even get me started on those who brought in unrelated issues to the podium. Oh wait, I will get started - THIS IS MY RANTING TIME!
Let me see what issues unrelated to marijuana or hemp were mentioned in some of the guest speakers' talks: gay rights, global warming, abortion, etc. People, this is Hempfest. Okay, maybe I can see where global warming ties in (hemp is a much more sustainable product than trees and other raw materials), but bad things happen when a sensible issue gets jumbled up with other issues. Here is my favorite example, because it is actually the one that made me decide to dump my Republican identity and switch over to the porcupine side (and, of course, I will tell my story in a later post):
We all know what anthropogenic global climate change is. Maybe not. It just means global warming...for those of you who couldn't figure it out. Even though the science behind it is pretty solid, there are plenty of naysayers, thanks to the fact that the issue has become unnecessarily politicized. Republican organization and politicians would talk about the usual things, which I mostly agreed with, but refuse to accept the possibility of global warming, and even outright bash environmentalists, and that is just not cool. Then of course the environmental groups would talk about other issues that were not related to healthcare (women's "rights," universal healthcare, etc.) as if just because I was (well, and still am) an environmentalist. I got mail from the Democratic Party because, I guess, they thought I was one of them.
You want to know a reason why Republicans won't be accepting the existence of global warming, want to be environmentalists, or end the War on Drugs any time soon? It is because of people like some of these guest speakers who take an issue you can relate to and then compare it to "problems" you either do not care about or are actually against. If you are participating in a rally declaring that the US military should pull out of every country we are occupied in, do not bring in other issues by saying things like, "We should be spending those wasted dollars on healthcare and our kids' education instead" or carrying signs that say, "Free healthcare, not free markets" (I seriously saw that once...yes, at a pro-peace rally). Ya know, I will definitely rant about this more in a later post.
To continue with my ranting, I hate how Hempfest is endorsing Michael McGinn for mayor of Seattle. At least they allowed his opponent, Ed Murray, to have a booth there too (and speak on the main stage). This does not even have to do with the fact that I would vote Murray over McGinn any day, although I do not like either of them. My first taste of McGinn was when I was driving to Tacoma to see Gary Johnson at the Rainiers game last summer with the guy I was dating, and, of course, we got stuck in Seattle traffic. He then started to complain about the mayor and how he halted road construction products (I think to expand lanes or something) to get people to use public transportation, bike, etc. instead. As my friend's brother put it, "to annoy people" to use those things instead of driving in their cars.
Anywho, the reason why I do not like Hempfest endorsing him is because I don't like single-issue organizations endorsing anybody. Why are single-issue political parties not popular? It is because there are so many other things out there that people are worrying about. Sure, I care for the environment, but I am not just going to vote for a politician because he or she has the exact plan that I think will be the best for everyone. Actually, I stopped supporting the Sierra Club because they sent me a letter telling me which politicians to vote for. I was so angry that not only did I write them back expressing my outrage, but I hand-wrote a letter. That is how mad I was. Sure, I support a lot of the things they do, but it does not sit correctly knowing if I supported them, that I was also supporting these politicians. It also ties in with people trying to lead issues into other issues.
If Hempfest is supporting (in this case, endorsing) a certain politician or political party, let us suppose the Democrats, then of course that is going to turn off Republicans! Also, what makes McGinn so much better than Murray? I am pretty sure both believe in the same thing when it comes to legalizing marijuana. I mean, I know they are both for it, maybe it's just the way they are going about it. Seriously, I have no idea. I was told that Hempfest likes how McGinn has been dealing with it so far. Whatever. Just to be clear, I have no problem at all that politicians are speaking on the stages, or that political parties and candidates have booths. I just do not want them endorsing anyone.
So why am I still supporting Hempfest but not the Sierra Club? I guess I was so fed up with the flame war between the Sierra Club and the Republicans (and everyone else who thinks that the government shouldn't get involved with environmental issues), that that was the last straw. I suppose that the positive really outweighs the negative in the case of Hempfest, and it's not like they were really pushy when it came to endorsing McGinn - I only found that out because I walked by the booth, versus with the Sierra Club, they were totally being all up in my face about it (I mean it was totally one-sided, and they were supporting Obama - WHO ENDORSES "CLEAN" COAL!!).
Last topic to rant on: when I first visited the Murray booth, two girls were manning it. I asked about him because even though I am not a voter in Seattle (or in Washington...I am sent absentee ballots from Texas), I wanted to learn a little about what he wants to do for the city. They were telling me all the "good" things about him, and then one girl says, "One thing that he believes in doing is giving Planned Parenthood more money," and she looked at me as if what she said was the gold mine of whatever in the history of my life has ever appealed to me. I probably replied with something like, "Umm, great...I'll check him out."
I just love that because I am a woman that people think I automatically support Planned Parenthood, or that I am even pro-choice. One of the only reasons I am pro-choice is because of the drawbacks of prohibition. I hate saying I am pro-choice because I don't even really feel that way. Abortion is an issue that libertarians definitely cannot seem to agree upon, either because they feel that it is the mother's choice, or that it is the murder of a human who does not have say over what is happening. What pretty much all libertarians agree on is that the government should not put (taxpayer money) into Planned Parenthood, namely abortions.
Just think of it this way, would you want to force someone to pay for a procedure that kills something that they believe to be very precious? Would you want to collect money from a vegan in order to kill a cow? It is disturbing to me to use other people's money to do something with it that they cannot endorse ethically.
My poor friend (and his brother) had to endure this for hours. Be glad it wasn't you. I was like, "I am going to write about this for my blog! I have so much to say about what is all going on here!" As you can see, I do.
Something interesting that had been on my mind, and that I talked to them about, was the idea of "Crackfest." Sure, that would probably be pretty sketchy, but how do we get people behind the idea of legalizing other drugs? I guess there is the whole personal freedom thing. Marijuana has the benefit of being its own culture, and it has other uses than just making you high for funsies - medical, nutritional, and industrial hemp.
I spent the rest of the day trying to fill out a scavenger hunt in Dope magazine. There were several vendors, and then I would have to go find them, would get something from that booth, they would check it off in the magazine, and then at the end, I had to visit the magazine booth. I wasn't able to find three vendors, but I learned, the next day, it was because they ended up not making it, so I still got my prizes which was pretty dope. That scavenger hunt added things to my "I have no idea what it is (I know it is used for something marijuana-related), but, hey, it's free" collection.
One quote I really took away from it was, "Take what you can get and fight for more," referring to the initiatives. Even though marijuana is now "legal" in Washington, it doesn't mean we just stop fighting for more legalization. I-502 passed last year, and this year we have I-584. I will be talking about this in a later post.
When the panels were over, I went around and listened to bands and guest speakers. One of the speakers talked about how he had a shop in D.C. (forgot what kind it was), and that people from the military and police force would go there asking if they had a certain substance, which turned out to be a synthetic form of marijuana that was legal. Their shop sold it for a while and were reaping hundreds of dollars a day, but finally, they decided it went against their morals and stopped selling it, just a few months before it became illegal. The speaker told us that that drug probably wouldn't have existed if it weren't for the laws restricting marijuana. It reminded of what Milton Friedman had to say on crack cocaine. A possible danger of the War on Drugs is that people will always come up with alternatives, and that may be even more dangerous because they are unregulated and/or don't have private institutions checking for its safety.
At the end of the day, I went from the third stage to the second. When I arrived there, I was like, "Whoa...and I thought people at the third stage were stoned." When guest speakers went up to the podium at the stage and say what they had to say, people were too stoned to applaud. Only about five people ever clapped at a given moment.
A theme that came up during a lot of speeches is that some people would ask the activists and politicians whether Hempfest was important anymore since marijuana is now legal ("legal") in Washington. The answers varied, with the most common reply being along the lines of, "No, the fight is not over! We are going to continue Hempfest until hemp and marijuana are made legal by the federal government!" Another response was, "There are beerfests, and beer is perfectly legal, so why not marijuana?"
What do I think?
I agree with both. The urgency of Hempfest should continue as long as marijuana and hemp are viewed illegal by the federal government (and maybe other states too). Also, I see no problem with it going on even if it is made 100% legal everywhere. You can't deny that there is a weed culture.
By just listening to these talks, you get the idea that Hempfest is about doing what is right - making marijuana legal so that there are less victimless crimes in the US. Isn't that what it's all about?
That is, if you ask (my friends and) most people who attend. I am poked fun at because I don't smoke weed, and people were telling me before I went that "that's what it's almost about there. You go to get high."
I am disgruntled at how oblivious and disrespectful a lot of people there were. Last year, the cleanup fee was high because the place was vandalized. Is that what people go to Hempfest for? To just smoke, buy (or steal) some things, and destroy property at the expense of the organization that lets them in for free? I really wonder what the victims of the nonviolent marijuana-related crimes think of the behavior of the people there. How about the medical marijuana patients? Of course, I am neither, and who knows, maybe they like it. However, I don't appreciate it at all. Sure, it's a fun atmosphere, but people completely miss the point of why this event is held every year. I feel like most people who attend (or the stereotypical ones) perverse the meaning of Hempfest.
The workers there kept reminding us that last year, they raised (I think) about 25 cents for every person who attended. That is ridiculous. There has been the ever-looming threat of Hempfest becoming extinct because it gets more expensive every year. I actually wondered if maybe the higher costs of maintenance and regulation had anything to do with McGinn. Of course, I am not talking about him intentionally trying to make Hempfest more expensive, but usually those kinds of rules affect businesses. More procedures are usually added to how to run certain events, businesses, etc. mostly to make it "safer" or more "convenient." Bureaucracy be bureaucracy. I would find it hilarious if he was responsible for any of the rising costs - just because they endorsed him. It would be great if someone could follow up on this and do some research, or maybe clear it up and say that he wasn't involved with any of those decisions. I don't care enough to actually look it up.
|Ed Murray, Washington State Senator and candidate for Seattle mayor|
|Hemposium - where I spent most of my Sunday|
|Me with the guys from CannaMLS|
|Stephen DeAngelo - Executive Director of Harborside Health Center (Oakland, CA) and star of "Weed Wars" (Discovery Channel)|
|Inside cover of "If a Peacock Finds a Potleaf" - "We hope you like our new book! Cannabis saves lives - Hemp could save the world"|
|The line on the first day - because I was VIP, I got to cut in front of everybody|
|Me with Senator Mike Gravel (left) and C. Michael Pickens (right), Executive Director of the Libertarian Party of Washington at the VIP after-party|
You can also view the pictures (and more captioning) here.
I apologize for my delay on getting this up. Hopefully, you will get something out of those. As always, I encourage you to participate in discussion. Au revoir!
EDIT: Check out my speech from the 2014 Seattle Hempfest.