August 17, 2017  Last Update: December 21, 2016, 11:10 pm

Seattle HempFest 2013 : Celebrating End of Prohibition?

Seattle HempFest has been called the largest open pro-marijuana festival in the world, and that was before this year's expected crowd of 85,000 or more. Photo from HempFest 2012.

Seattle HempFest has been called the largest open pro-marijuana festival in the world, and that was before this year’s expected crowd of 85,000 or more. Photo from HempFest 2012.

Seattle’s annual HempFest pro-marijuana festival is scheduled for August 16, 17 and 18, this Friday Saturday and Sunday on the Seattle waterfront.  With the legalization of non-medical use marijuana in 2013, and open retail selling expected to begin at the end of the year, this HempFest is drawing a very large crowd. Organizers are estimating up to 100,000 attendees over the 3 day event.

HempFest has traditionally been a park festival celebrating the marijuana culture, over a few days where Seattle police traditionally held back on enforecment of rules governing personal use marijuana, smoking in public parks, and open sale of drug paraphernalia like glass pipes, marijuana grinders, and vaporizers. “Letting them have their little festival” was the norm, although open sales of drugs were still outlawed, and police did maintain a presence to enforce moderation and reason.

This year appears to be a whole new game. Since voters passed an initiative to legalize personal use marijuana, Washington state citizens have been preparing for a new world of commerce after the end of “prohibition”. Marijuana dispensaries and growing co-ops are preparing  to meet both consumer demand and new regulations  coming out of the State Capitol Olympia. Legislatures have been busy forming working groups and committes and extending the Washington State Liquor Control Board  to govern a marijana trade.

Seattle HempFest this weekend : Seattle becoming "the Amsterdam of the US"
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HempFest has been called a “protestival” because it grew out of a grass-roots protest  against marijuana prohibition. Last year’s HempFest was unusually large because of the legalization ballot. Almost 250,000 attended the event, with numerous politicians speaking at length from the stage on the Initiative, the rules, and their own political agendas. This year, HempFest will prove whether or not the festival will “grow up” and more than head shops, extremely liberal political candidates, and pro-pot defense lawyers. Someone has to represent a legal commercial community that is already driving major tourism dollars for Seattle, as well as legal and regulatory innovations that could become prototypes for the end of Federal prohibition of marijuana in the future.

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