Suck it, Neo-Nazi rallies: Seattle Hempfest expects over 100,000 people this weekend and is one of the nation’s largest events devoted to free speech—and weed. Entering its 26th year and dubbed a “protestival,” the Seattle Hempfest is the political event for those passionate about cannabis legalization, ethical and compassionate medicine, and industrial hemp. The festival’s primary mission is to educate people about cannabis and to advocate for cannabis law reform.
Seattle Hempfest was created in 1991. It was originally called “The Washington Hemp Expo.” Although the first festival had a small attendance, its popularity and notoriety boomed from one year to the next.
Thanks to the tireless work of community organizers and the American Civil Liberties Union, the Seattle Hempfest was able to gain recognition and legitimacy as a political rally, instead of merely a gathering of “stoners.”
The Hempfest has historically featured bands, artists, and political activists. Their goal? To organize, rally, and advocate for the legalization of cannabis.
Some notable featured speakers have included Krist Novoselic, Woody Harrelson, and even a few Seattle-based politicians, including former mayor Mike McGinn. Today, Seattle Hempfest is sponsored by a huge range of cannabis companies.
This year, the festival starts today and will end on Sunday. The Seattle Hempfest expects over 100,000 people this weekend.
To prepare for this massive attendance, there are 1,000 volunteers staffing the event. The festival will have five different stages for musical acts and speakers. There will also be 400 vendors offering information, food, and arts and crafts.
Interestingly, what you can’t do at the Seattle Hempfest is consume cannabis. It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s all in the interest of keeping in accordance with the laws of the state of Washington.
Even though Washington has legalized recreational cannabis, parks are designated Drug-Free Zones. Since Hempfest takes place in a park, this law is in full effect. Festival organizers also request that festival-goers refrain from eating edibles.
Final Hit: Seattle Hempfest Expects Over 100,000 People This Weekend
Even though thousands of people are expected to attend the Seattle Hempfest this weekend, there are those who are less than thrilled with the festival. The group Smart Approaches to Marijuana wants people to be more critical of Hempfest.
In fact, they’ve taken out several advertisements urging weed smokers to examine and change their habit. SAM’s president, Kevin Sabet, has even accused Hempfest of becoming corporatized. While he insists that his group does not advocate for the recriminalization of cannabis, he’s afraid of a potential “Big Marijuana” corporate takeover.
The founder of Seattle Hempfest, Vivian McPeak, isn’t bothered by this accusation. Quite the contrary. He says that he’s grateful for the free publicity SAM has inadvertently given to Hempfest.
Whether or not you agree with Hempfest’s message or that of SAM’s, you can’t ignore the facts. Because Seattle Hempfest expects over 100,000 people this weekend, history is being made.