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Vivian McPeak

On this 420 holiday it is time to finally end the “pot shaming”

Another year has rolled by and another stoner’s holiday is here (as if anyone really needs an excuse to light up for the smoky celebration). Millions of high quality pot enthusiasts will be enthusiastically seeking a quality high. In the eight states that have flipped, recreational stores will be slinging bud as fast as they can process payments as a new growth industry struggles to satisfy the supply and demand aspects of the market

One thing we can predict that will also accompany the spectacle of the 420 celebrations will be media pot shaming in all of its glorious forms. However, that is finally starting to change.

The Giggle Factor

For some reason the media has not been able to resist the curious urge to embed a double entendre in the captions of every cannabis related news story. For decades we have seen headlines such as “Is legalization just a smokescreen?” or “State delivers harsh toke of reality to activists.” There is really no other subject that gets that same treatment.

There has been something inherently funny about all things cannabis to non-users. For decades pot activists have been subjected to ridicule and “potshots,” and anyone who has been out in the public collecting signatures or generally advocating for legalization has heard all the jokes that don’t seem to apply to the enthusiasts of other substances.

While it is nice that cannabis seems to bring a smile to the faces of many people who are not a part of the culture, it is still a subtle form of prejudice and dismissal akin to that which other racial, cultural, and religious minorities often receive.

Often in media interviews or political talk shows when a commentator wants to characterize someone’s ideas or concepts as absolutely childish or asinine they will say things like, “well, I don’t know what he’s been smoking, but…”, as if any thought generated by a pot smoker has no possibility of credibility or accuracy. Never have we heard something like, “well, I don’t know what she’s been drinking but…” even though alcohol, for example, can cloud a person’s judgment or decision making.

Let’s forget the reality that some of the greatest art, music, and writing has been generated by people who were ravenous consumers of pot, or that the supposed deadbeat losers who smoke pot have managed to force legalization in more than half of America’s states. Pretty good for a bunch of unmotivated slackers!

The Cultural Judgements

While tobacco and alcohol are responsible for thousands of deaths annually Americans who imbibe these substances are not in any way exposed to the degree of prejudice and bigotry that cannabis users have grown to expect.

Pot smokers have known damned well that they had better hide their use if they were looking to find a job or housing because the stigma attached to cannabis is so great that even casual users will be judged as if they were addicts.

Cannabis users still risk the loss of child custody in many communities, and those who are arrested and convicted of pot “ crimes” are routinely required to complete drug treatment programs whether or not they exhibited any history or signs of addiction. All pot use is considered abuse by some healthcare professionals and treatment “experts.”

Then there is the way that some mainstream folks associate cannabis with the counter-culture, as if that is an indication of some dismissive factor, or some relegation of cannabis use to the lower social classes. An entire article could be written about the way that cannabis users have been judged by holier than thou tobacco and alcohol users who supported prohibition. After all, pot smokers were using an addictive drug, something these folks were just too smart and responsible to even consider. Right?

And you’d think people with dreadlock hair in tie-dyes and Birkenstocks had caused the majority of wars and environmental damage on the planet the way mainstream folks laugh at them from their glass houses. I think some of the finest and most responsible human beings dress that way and it should be nothing to be ashamed of. The 1960’s cultural associations have been successfully used to demonize pot for decades. It needs to stop.

The Reefer Madness double standards

We can expect news articles that focus on the dangers of cannabis, citing issues like stoned driving, suicidal teens, a propensity to schizophrenia, and other health dangers. While there may be some truth to the reports, these “dangers” will be presented as if they are taking place in a vacuum. The implication in many of these pieces will be that legalization creates societal problems that are so threatening that perhaps prohibition is a good policy.

Well, prohibition is not a good policy for several reasons, but the most striking reason may be that prohibition does not eliminate or even really reduce use. Then there are the racial inequalities that result in a disproportionate degree of people of color and the economically underprivileged wallowing in jails and prisons. And there are also the constitutional erosion that prohibition creates, treating pot smokers like they are second class citizens subject to a heightened and disproportionate degree of enforcement and persecution.

The biggest reason that prohibition is bad , however, is that there is nothing criminal about getting high.

The reality is that alcohol abuse causes many more suicides than cannabis ever has, and alcohol can cause signs and symptoms of mental illness including depression, anxiety, psychosis, and antisocial behavior. These can happen during alcohol intoxication and also during withdrawal. Some pharmaceutical drugs come with warnings about the proclivity to suicide that they can elicit in the patients taking them.

Tobacco use is potentially deadly for every single long term smoker as well as anyone inhaling their second hand smoke. Now it is being reported that residual “third hand smoke” is deadly for children for up to 5 years. Every year thousands of people who are using tobacco products exactly how they are intended to be used die from the effects of their tobacco consumption. Thousands more suffer from a variety of deadly diseases directly attributed to their tobacco use. It is reported that the single biggest form of roadside litter is discarded cigarette butts, potentially poisoning wildlife.

Pharmaceutical drugs kill thousands annually. It is common for television commercials advertising pharmaceuticals to include a long list of potential side effects featuring a litany of  potential life threatening complications.

But you will not hear many people suggesting we put people who drink alcohol, take pharmaceutical drugs, or use tobacco into jails and prisons by the hundreds of thousands. You will not hear those people demonized and stereotyped in any fashion similar to cannabis enthusiasts.

Millions of Americans routinely expose their children to their tobacco or alcohol use, but if a pot smoker does the same thing they may risk a criminal conviction. If a small child eats a pack of cigarettes or drinks a bottle of alcohol it could kill them, but should a child get a hold of a cannabis edible (which cannot kill them at all) it is treated like a life threatening situation by law enforcement and health professionals. Of course, alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis should be stored far out of children’s reach at all times.

All of this inequality is because of the way society views cannabis and people who use the herb either medicinally or recreationally. Cannabis enthusiasts have been treated on par with some of the most violent criminals in society for decades despite the fact that the dangers of cannabis pale in comparison with these other substances.

While nobody wants to see children using pot the irony is that in states that have legalized it kids have a much harder time accessing ganja. Anyone truly concerned about youth use should be an ardent supporter of legalization.

Now that we have several states selling cannabis to adults over the counter there is enough data to reveal that the concerns about legal cannabis sales were exaggeration, hyperbole, and outright fantasy, generated by decades of state sanctioned scapegoating, character assassination, bigotry, and prejudice.

All the cannabis culture has been asking for is equality. If somebody screws up on pot and does something wrong they should pay for it, but the consequences should be in proportion to the act and equal to comparable consequences for the users of other substances. It is time to end the pot shaming and treat people who use cannabis like the otherwise normal Americans they are.

Lately there has been a big shift in the way the media reports about cannabis. Now that the recreational weed industry is a billion dollar industry a sense of legitimacy has been established and that is reflected in a more serious tone in many recent news media reports.

It’s about time. Simply put, we are never going to go away. We are here to stay.  In fact, we are growing like a plant in fertile soil, and our seeds are dropping everywhere. Let’s roach the pot-shaming and allow cannabis enthusiasts the respect and the dignity that they deserve, just like anybody else.

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Vivian McPeak

Green Nation – The steady advent of the legal cannabis industry heralds a new dawn for the world’s most misunderstood and maligned plant

There is the smell of victory and then there is the sweet smell of success, and both aromas smell an awful lot like cannabis these days. After a century of scorched earth government crusade against the plant a fundamental shift is taking place, and it threatens to change everything. Pot has indeed been winning, but not everywhere — yet.

At the exact same moment when there are hundreds of thousands of Americans in jails and prisons over pot convictions, well over 50% of Americans polled believe that cannabis should be legal for adults.

Eight states now allow the regulated sale of cannabis to adults. More than 60 percent of Americans live in a state that has either legal medical or recreational marijuana, and nearly two thirds of the nation has some form of legalization.

A recent report indicates that 123,000 Americans are currently employed full-time in the cannabis industry, which is already worth billions despite being in complete defiance of federal law.

Imagine what the cannabis industry could do if it could operate outside of state lines, in all 50 states, and business owners could bank with their money and deduct their expenses like other businesses can?

Marijuana tax collections in Colorado and Washington have so far exceeded initial estimates. Total legalization would likely result in billions of dollars per year in marijuana tax revenue that could help plug a lot of important funding holes and provide needed services.

In excess of 60 percent of the pot revenue raised by Washington State already goes to public health programs like Medicaid, substance abuse prevention education, community health centers, and a portion will be shared with the local governments that allow cannabis sales.

If cannabis can generate so much economic activity and interest as a federally illegal substance, only legal on the state level in a handful of states, a legal interstate and eventually international, cannabis industry could be a gateway to economic recovery for America.

What Was Chicken Little Smoking?

Even with the sky intact after multiple states have rejected prohibition, the opponents of legalization are still incredulous. They scream from the rooftops that legalization will bring workplace accidents, increased crime rates, scores of traffic accidents, and skyrocketing youth use rates. But despite the smorgasbord of dire gloom and doom predictions offered by anti-legalization “experts” their concerns have largely not rung true.

Five years into the legalization experiment the data tells us that in all of those cases there has either been no change since pot has been decriminalized or there has actually been a statistical reduction. Rather than cause death, pain, and suffering, numerous studies have revealed an association between cannabis availability and decreased rates of opioid use, abuse, and mortality.

When asked recently how he felt about legalization 3 years in, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper replied: “… we’re not going to see a big spike in teenagers using marijuana. I’d say in most circumstances, from most perspectives, our worst nightmares haven’t materialized.”

In Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and State Attorney General Bob Ferguson have vowed to defend their state’s recreational cannabis industry should the Trump Administration target it.

Yet for the longest time cannabis enthusiasts and advocates have endured a relentless onslaught of denigration, ridicule, mockery, and prejudice. And the indignities have not stopped at being marginalized, scapegoated, and embarrassed.

Many Americans caught with cannabis have been treated on par with dangerous and violent criminals. People convicted of pot crimes can expect to be incarcerated right along with many of the scariest of criminals. Some have had their children taken away or have lost their careers, homes, cars, and bank accounts. Some have lost their lives.

And there have been other ways that prohibition has harmed society with its false stereotypes, exaggerations, and characterizations.

The “giggle factor” that cannabis advocates know they can expect from mainstream society has been a subtle form of dog whistle ridicule. Non-users often start to smile and laugh at the mention of cannabis. It is a sub-conscious way to relegate the entire subject of cannabis to some whimsical, silly, absurd status, without actually saying anything negative about the subject.

In media, on talk shows and interviews, someone who wanted to characterize someone’s ideas as asinine, absurd, childish, or foolish, might say, “Well, I don’t know what he’s been smoking but…” This is supposed to insinuate that the person targeted is so out of bounds that he must be smoking pot because, after all, who else would come up with something that bizarre and ridiculous?

For several generations the pot user has been presented to mainstream society by the government and media as the zoned out, fuzzy, deadbeat slacker — a glazed-eyed stumblebum who ate all your food and is still sleeping on your couch.

But that is all about to change. In fact, the change has already begun. There is a cannabis tsunami approaching and it won’t have the scent of patchouli attached to it.

The Lap of Legal Luxury in High Society 

While some Americans languish in jails or prisons over pot, contemplating how to survive the next 24 hours without being attacked or sexually assaulted, other Americans are enjoying the freedom and the convenience of state legal over-the-counter retail pot markets. They enjoy the freedom to go to a cannabis shop, buy some weed, and go on their merry way as long as they are 21 years of age. In contrast, you could really call that a luxury.

And many Americans who choose cannabis would consider it a luxury not to be going to jail over weed, or not being frisked for the color of their skin. And then there would be the luxury of not being discriminated against for a job, or housing, or for possessing a firearm. The luxury of not having your children taken away, or of having your home and car seized would also probably make the list.

It’s hard to know when we might be seeing those luxuries from the hardships of prohibition disappear, but there is an entirely different form of luxuriousness taking place for cannabis, one that only serves to highlight the ironic paradox that is the American legalization experiment.

While some states still exist in the prehistoric prohibition dark ages, the legal states are ushering in a brand new image for cannabis and if I was Ralph Lauren I would be concerned.

A new study from Miner and Co. Studio has revealed that a vast majority of cannabis consumers are employed full-time and have a household income of $75,000 or more. There is a new high end cannabis product market targeting the upper echelon of the moneyed classes and don’t expect Bob Marley music to be playing in the background.

However, do expect the Bob Marley estate, through a 30-year licensing deal, to market Marley Natural. The brand will sell cannabis, personal care products and accessories and aims to be the “Starbucks of marijuana.”

Whether you are looking to buy a $3,600 cannabis cigar or stay in a cannabis friendly bed and breakfast in some distant land, high society is now being courted by a suitor that has undergone a radical changeover and is dressed in Armani.

Whoopi Goldberg, Willie Nelson, and other celebrities are diving into the cannabis industry, as the old negative pot image peels away and ganja forges a new image based upon entrepreneurship, innovation, & industry. There is a now bandwagon forming that others will most certainly want to jump onto as the new emerging growth-industry begins to ascend both in stature and size.
While witnessing the big money opulence being infused into the cannabis culture can be a little hard to swallow for some of us — especially while there are people still going to jails and prisons — the fastest way to change the entire paradigm is to normalize and mainstream the herb in general. If we can demystify pot while creating financial incentives for society to reject prohibition we will be cementing the demise of a policy that has failed on every apparent level.

If prohibition was meant to stop Americans from using cannabis it has been a complete and total waste of taxpayer dollars, dollars that have been spent preventing a potential generator of tax revenues that could rival those of the alcohol industry.

Bucky Fuller said, “Don’t fight forces — use them.” The cannabis industry is using the forces of supply and demand to carve a niche in the economic marketplace.

 

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Vivian McPeak

Does President Trump equal Schedule II?

Forbidden canabis

If there is one thing I am not prepared to do it is predict what the members of the Trump presidential cabinet will do with their power to invoke policy change. The smorgasbord of billionaires, retired generals, and NeoCon and Alt-Right ideologues is lining up to be as scorched earth as any previous cabinet in terms of human rights, environmental policy, economics, and beyond.

But a reading of the tea leaves does give one reason for pause and concern when it comes to drug policy, and more specifically, cannabis policy. President-elect Donald Trump has formally nominated Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., a known anti-pot zealot, for his attorney general. Sessions considers pot use tantamount to heroin use. He never met a drug law he did not like.

Trump is expected to select retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly to head the Department of Homeland Security, as has been confirmed by the Washington Post. Kelly is apparently reasonably supportive of medical marijuana, but is staunchly against legalization.

Large Legal Marijuana Farm Professional Commercial Grade Greenho

Georgia Rep. Tom Price is being eyed as the secretary for Health and Human Services for the Trump cabinet. He too is a Sessions style anti-pot crusader.

And then there is Jim O’Neill, who is an associate at Peter Thiel’s Mithril Capital Management, and who is being portrayed in the media as a “legalization activist,” which might be a slight stretch of the word. O’Neill was a founding member of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, and is apparently being considered to lead the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA is the organization most responsible for deciding the medical value of substances like cannabis, and earlier this year they concluded that cannabis “has high potential for abuse” and offers “no currently accepted medical use in treatment.” But top members of the FDA have publicly raised questions about the appropriateness of listing cannabis as a federal Schedule One substance, but that is what may be a red flag to cannabis retailers and legalization advocates.

Anyone paying attention knows that politics plays as an important role as science does in these matters when government is involved.

THC word cloud concept

Danielle Keane, communications associate at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, is reported to have said, “If O’Neill were to be confirmed as head of the FDA it would, at the very least, provide a voice of support in favor of marijuana law reform within an administration that is appearing to largely be made up of anti-marijuana appointments.”

Is that proof of a grow-light at the end of the prohibition tunnel?

And Marijuana Majority’s Tom Angell has said, “Seeing Jim’s name floated gives us reason for a little optimism in the midst of so many old school drug warriors being tapped for other key posts. I feel confident that if he becomes the next FDA commissioner, we will be in very good position to finally reschedule marijuana.”

Ah, but that, as Frank Zappa sang, might be “the crux of the biscuit.” A change in marijuana’s schedule, indeed.

marijuana bush on a background of the cloudy sky at sunset

marijuana bush on a background of the cloudy sky at sunset

In the states where cannabis has been legalized for retail sale the pharmaceutical industry has seen drug sales lessened, and quite a bit. In fact, a slew of various pharma drugs have been experiencing a decrease in sales in communities where retail cannabis is legal, and it appears to be just the tip of the ice berg. Of course, overdose deaths have already decreased in those regions, but that does not seem to be very important to that particular industry, as new customers are being born, or are being aged, every minute.

Trump has gone on record (how much that means is debatable) as saying that pharmaceutical drug prices have gone too high. If Jim O’Neill (a climate-change denier, among other things) gets the job that might be an indication that, indeed, cannabis could be in for a long awaited schedule change.

But that could be just the problem. Rather than de-schedule the herb entirely, the basket of cabinet deplorables that Trump is amassing could be an indication that a potential change to Schedule II could be in store.

What if Trump offered medical cannabis, a potential trillion dollar industry that is already competing with petrol-chemical drugs, to the pharmaceutical industry in exchange for a promise to slightly reduce the cost of some prescription drugs?

How that would impact the sale of cannabis in stats that have legalized is not certain. Such a move could cripple the burgeoning medibles industry and hand over control of oils, tinctures, and medibles to Big Pharma. A Schedule II change could create a regulatory bureaucracy that could potentially stop the sale of pot in the states that have allowed such in its tracks. Schedule II could seriously impact the trajectory of pot legalization and shape the industry for years to come.

Would this collection of ideologues make such a bold move and displace millions, if not billions, of dollars in state taxes being generated, and cost the jobs of those working in the fledgling retail cannabis industry? That’s anyone’s guess.

Seattle-Hempfest-Blog-Cannabis-vs-pharma

Trump is all business, and in some ways American policy is up for sell to the highest bidder. Trump is all about the “art of the deal,” and the Oval Office is looking more like a traditional corporate board room than ever as all the signals indicate that any protocol or convention that we have grown used to might be rendered obsolete.

Trump has almost revealed a contempt for conventional political decorum, and Wall Street and corporate CEO mouths are already watering at the specter of a new era when policy can be shaped by merely offering up for exchange anything that President Trump may think would be politically expedient and fruitful for his administration.

The apprentice president is no slouch — he is a devious, shrewd, calculated strategist who thinks in terms of a cost / benefit analysis in every deal he approaches. His brand loyalty is to his own brand, and he apparently sees everything through the tinted lens of a bottom line.

The word “legalization” means different things to different people. Changing the Controlled Substances Act Federal Schedule of cannabis to Schedule II could be marketed as “full, complete legalization of medical marijuana,” something that polling indicates would be favorable to the majority of his diverse population of supporters.

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Why his presidency would not mean a boon to the interests of the pharmaceuticals industry is a mystery that we will simply have to wait out to get an answer to. But a schedule move could be just the thing to help him fashion an appearance as being a compassionate conservative while taking a mega-trending industry out of the hands of the community based economic activists who have built the present paradigm and handing it over to the corporate sector for fun and profit.

The cost could very well be that a rescheduling of cannabis would be just the cup of tea that the Big Pharma lobbyists could sweeten up with some backroom negotiations that kick every cannabis patient swiftly under the “cannabus” again. That is something that the patients and their providers have already grown all too accustomed to on an individual state level.

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Vivian McPeak

Is the world ready for a cannabis explosion? Here it comes!

Basic RGB

I can recall a time when it was a rarity to hear or read about a news story about cannabis. For almost two decades I kept a database of every cannabis related news story that I came across. I could never keep up with the torrent of pot news coming out now.

As someone who was a child in the 1960’s and a counter-culture teenager in the 70s, I recall the intense stigma and controversy that the herb had attached to it.

I remember the day in 1974 when I read the first edition of High Times Magazine — and how exciting, edgy, and irreverent it was at the time. It was not only revolutionary, it was a window into a completely different social & cultural world — one that rewarded open minds and renegade hearts with a beautiful global culture to belong to — a culture of defiance and resilience, and of peace and love.

Being a pot smoker was like being a member of a secret club, and for many, including myself, the very act of getting high was a political statement — a defiant and deliberate rejection of the authoritarian status-quo. Getting high was seen as both a symbolic statement against the establishment and a spiritual upaya, a conduit or vehicle for introspection, inner peace, relaxation, and a general communing with the natural Universe.

I also recall the first time, in 1995, that I traveled to the original High Times Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, and how absolutely mind blowing and liberating it felt to see pot plants and buds in full public view. But it was even more mind bending to be able to stroll into a coffee shop and choose our buds from a menu.

Marijuana bud

When we started Seattle Hempfest in 1991, it was downright controversial to be stapling 11 x 17 inch posters on poles across the city featuring huge pot leaves on them. One time I had an old man rip the poster from my hands as I was attaching it to a telephone pole. The gentleman tore it up into little pieces, threw them on the ground, and stomped on them with his feet, proclaiming “no way are you putting that drug stuff up in my community!”

And working various events it became apparent that cannabis made straight people laugh, almost every time. They would laugh as they walked by our booth, one poking the other with an elbow and remarking, “hey honey, maybe we should attend the Hempfest? Ha ha ha ha.” It was the giggle factor — pot made non-users smile and giggle. Well, that was then and this is now because they are not laughing at us any more.

hfest94_2

We still have a long way to go, but it is getting harder and harder for many of us to recall a time without medical dispensaries or retail stores lining the streets of our state here in Washington. The old Hempfest posters that caused such controversy when we posted them have given way to huge billboards lining the highway advertising buds for sale to anyone over 21.

We are entering a new era. We are on the precipice of a global transition in terms of cannabis law and culture. My generation is aging, and new generations are coming into their own and discovering a new emerging industry and market that is poised to introduce cannabis to the world, thereby increasing our chances of saving it. Industrial hemp alone has so much to offer in terms of renewable carbon neutral energy, a clean, easy protein source, and so much more. Just replacing alcohol and tobacco in some people’s lives will save lives.

Some people don’t handle cannabis well. They should probably not use it. The rest of us reserve the right to feel relaxed, to enjoy a meal or a tune, or to enhance a walk in the sunshine with impunity. That is our right as human beings. We are not harming anyone or anything. Leave us alone and there will be few problems associated with our pot use. Can you say the same thing about alcohol? Be honest with yourself.

Everything is changing. The age of cannabis is just beginning. It will help to change the world in some ways. It may even help to save it.

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Vivian McPeak

Seattle HEMPFEST® 2015 Business Mixer Integrated Into HEMPFEST Rally

For nearly a quarter of a century, Seattle HEMPFEST® has been a home base for the cannabis community.  Since the beginning of our social experiment to raise consciousness and spread knowledge of the many benefits and uses of Hemp and Cannabis, Hempfest has relied on the generous support of our many volunteers to do the heavy lifting, and our hundreds of vendors, and sponsors who literally pay the freight.

The nation and the cannabis community have evolved enormously over the years, and now that legalization has unveiled the enormity of the economic opportunity, the marketplace is accelerating at an unprecedented speed.

A year ago when we planned our first Hempfest Business Show, we envisioned a separate b2b event away from the main show at the Seattle Center.  In the last several months however, cannabis trade shows have popped up all over the country saturating the market’s appetite for yet another show.

A year ago, cannabis businesses needed to go off on their own to talk shop.  Now they are looking to take that talk to the main stage.

After speaking with our sponsors and vendors, and after learning of city placement of a 1,000 foot Waterslide on Mercer Street (directly in front of the venue, closing Mercer that day) the same weekend, we’ve decided to integrate the Hempfest Business Show into Hempfest.  We’ll still have a VIP Industry Gala at the Space Needle.

We believe that that the second phase of the Hemp revolution will be economic, and that our mission will be to take our conversations from preaching the gospel to the choir, to taking our evangelism to the mainstream.

Our media advisory about these changes is as follows:

Seattle HEMPFEST® Events Announces Merging its Planned Business Show into its Protestival and Business Mixer

In response to the addition of the Seattle Waterslide on Mercer Street, and market demand for a less fragmented cannabis event map and schedule, Seattle Hempfest has decided to merge its Business offer with its already successful Protestival, and new Business Mixer at the Space Needle Skyline Level.

“Business sponsors and exhibitors will be featured at our Protestival, where the larger community and audience will be at its peak, and more private business discussions will be accommodated at our Business Mixer to provide the best business experience to our partners,” said Vivian McPeak, Seattle Hempfest’s executive director.

“The new Seattle Waterslide on Mercer Street limits access to the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, on the same day of the Hempfest Business event,” said McPeak. “While at the same time, feedback from event participants and the broader cannabis industry shows a demand for a less fragmented event map and schedule, especially given the saturation of cannabis related business expos in our region.”

“Nobody wants to be isolated in a hard-to-reach area while everybody else is partying a few blocks away,” said McPeak. “So we decided to maximize our business partners reach and experience by relocating the Exhibition Hall activities to our existing and successful Protestival, and our new dedicated Business Mixer at the skyline level of the Seattle Space Needle. This should make the whole experience better for businesses and attendees alike: the big trade show with massive audience at the festival, and the dedicated business talks and networking at the Mixer.”

Vending, sponsorship, and volunteer opportunities for the Seattle HEMPFEST Protestival are still available, and more information can be found at hempfest.org

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Best Vape Pens 2015!

In recent years, marijuana vaporizers pens have been exploding in popularity, and a wide range of brands are currently being advertised with all sorts of fancy features. However, despite many vape pens claiming to be vaporize loose leaf herb, only a select few can do so effectively without scorching your herb. This reviews takes a lot at some of the better weed vape pens currently on the market in 2015 and explains the pros and cons of each.

1. Atmos Boss

Based in the USA, Atmos is well known for making quality vaporizers and vape pens, and their latest product the Atmos Boss certainly delivers. Unlike most vape pens which burn loose leaf, the Boss can handle it with ease. After loading a full bowl with some good quality product, I was able to get quite a few puffs and each had a great amount of vapor. When my session was finished, the loose leaf was quite dark and evenly cooked, signs that the heating provides a steady and even heat. With a thirty second warm up time, the heating element in the Boss reaches about 400F and maintains that temperature while in use. The Boss is also highly portable and discreet (it resembles an e-cigarette), making it great for medical users who need something while they’re on the go. The battery is rated for 1200mAH, so it should last the entire day with medium use.

2. Atmos Orbit

 

Yet another product from Atmos, the Orbit is one of the hottest pen vapes currently on the market. Not only does it boast rapid heating times, the Orbit’s heating chamber is ceramic, providing a clean tasting vapor and even heat. One of the best features of the Orbit is a clear herb chamber, that way you can always tell exactly when your session is finished. The unit stands about seven inches in height and is extremely lightweight and feels durable to hold. The battery life is quite good, and you should anticipate getting about a day worth of vaping if you aren’t a power user. You can also use the Orbit while the battery is charging which is another plus.

 

3. T-Vape 2.0

 

Developed by Squaresmoke, the T-Vape 2.0 is another excellent vape pen which also has loose leaf vaporization capabilities. The 2.0 boasts a temperature range of between 390F and 420F (selected via presets), ensuring that you get a full vaporization experience while using loose leaf. In the T-Vape kit you get a small herb chamber, a large chamber, a small battery, and one large battery, giving you some flexibility in customizing your setup. The kit feels well made and the button has a firm press to it. On a full charge the small unit can vape about three to four full bowls on a single charge, whereas the large batter can get around six on average. Although the T-Vape 2.0 is a great unit (especially for the price!), it is not as user-friendly as the Orbit or Boss in addition to having a longer heat-up time.

 

4. V2 Pro Series 3

 

The first entry in VMR’s hot new line of loose leaf vaporizers, the V2 Pro Series is a 3-in-1 vape pen designed to function with loose leaf, oil, and e-liquid (cartridges are available for each different function). One of the coolest things about the Series 3 is that it uses a magnetic system for charging as well as holding the different cartridges in place. This system also detects automatically which cartridge has been inserted, and adjusts the power level to compensate. The loose leaf mode works great, and there’s three heat settings which can be selected when using loose leaf. The battery life is quite good, but due to its smaller size it is not as long lasting as the Boss or Orbit batteries. Unfortunately the Series Pro 3 cannot be used while charging, but it charges quite rapidly. Both the e-liquid and oil cartridges produced good vapor, and at a price point of only $69 the Series Pro 3 is an excellent low priced way to see what vaping is all about.

 

As we’re still quite early in 2015, expect to see even more new weed pen vapes being released in the near feature with superior technology. However, for now these are some of the best options currently out there!

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top 3 vape pens

When a marijuana smoker finally gets fed up with pipes and bongs and the lung damage that comes with them, they begin to show a deep interest in portable vape pens as a solution for their current dilemma.  Many newcomers find it extremely challenging to select the right products when they are first getting started due to the overwhelming amount of information that is scattered throughout the internet on this topic.  For this very reason we have decided to put together this short guide in order to reveal to you which products are the best for users who are just getting their feet wet in the vape community.  Please read through our recommendations and our short reviews on each product before making your selection.  The following products are listed in order of which ones we liked best, so keep that in mind when you are making your decision.

 

1)  G Pro Herbal  by Grenco Science

 

Our first selection for the best vape pen for beginners is the G Pro Herbal by Grenco Science.  This stylish and easy to use pen is available in regular black along with the Snoop Dogg version as well.  The main reason we chose this pen as our number 1 selection is because quite honestly this is the product that we use to vaporize our dried herbal blends.  This pen is easy to use, reliable, and the battery lasts a very long time.  Simply grind up your dried herbs into a fine powder, load them up into the chamber ensuring to fill it all the way up, and then press the button and vape away.  This pen even comes with a mouthpiece extension tip to allow the vapor a chance to cool down before hitting your lips.  The vapor quality on this pen is above average, and overall it is a very solid choice for beginners.  We highly recommend this pen to newcomers and experts alike because of it’s ease of use and maximized efficiency.

 

2) Vaporite Budy Pen 3 in 1 Pen

 

Ranking it at number 2 we have the Vaporite Platinum 3 in 1 style pen.  The great thing about this pen is that it has 3 separate attachments, one for each type of material.  This pen can be used with dried herbs, waxes, and oils…offering the customer true versatility and multi-functional usage.  If you are interested in vaping but aren’t sure what type of material you are going to enjoy then this pen is perfect for you.  You can test out each material with each separate attachment and find out if you are a dried herb type of person or if you might lean a bit more towards concentrates and oils.  Regardless of what type of smoker you are, this vape has you covered.  Simply charge up the battery, press the power button five times to unlock it, load up your chosen material and vape away!

 

3) Pulsar Supernova Vaporizer Pen

 

Ranking in at number 3 in our lineup is the Pulsar Supernova.  The Supernova is a great pen for beginners who absolutely know without a shadow of a doubt that they only want to vape dried herbs and then want to vape them in a stealth like manner.  The Supernova is extremely compact and can fit inside a pocket or handbag easily to allow for maximum stealth and convenience.  This powerful pen is capable of producing extremely thick clouds of vapor and even has a small LCD display on the battery to keep track of how many draws you have taken.  The price on the Supernova is about as cheap as you will find in the dry herb market, and it has all of the features that higher priced models offer as well so you aren’t losing out.  Overall this is an excellent choice for those looking for an affordable option to vape dried herbs quickly and effectively.

 

So that sums up our list of the top 3 vaporizer pens for beginners.  We hope that you were able to gain some valuable insights into these products and figure out which one is right for you.  We know how confusing it can be when you first begin researching these products, which is why we presented you with this list so that you could at least narrow down your selection to these three products.  No matter which one you choose, ultimately we think you will end up a satisfied customer, or at the very least gain some valuable experiences that you can then apply to your next vape pen purchase.  Good luck and we truly hope that you have nothing but lasting success in your vaping adventures!

 

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Vivian McPeak

Republicans for Cannabis Legalization? Really?

 

America is polarized. Whether it is guns, abortion, the environment, energy, or healthcare, it seems as if there is a partisan divide over just about everything these days. So it can be terribly refreshing whenever there can be common ground identified by which normally opposing viewpoints can unify, even if only temporarily.

Such is the case with cannabis reform. Many in the reform movement have long wondered why more traditional conservatives have not taken up the cause of pot reform because it seems to align nicely with many of the values and ideals that have been historically paramount for the conservative movement.

One would think that anyone serious about limited government, state’s rights, sound fiscal policy, and individual liberty would be supportive of cannabis legalization. However, for the longest time, cannabis reform has been, more often than not, an issue taken up by liberal democrats. The hope and the change that pot activists have been embracing has, until recently, not been a cause that many card carrying conservatives were willing to publicly support.

I can think of a few times I have sat across the desk of a Republican legislator who has told me that they agree that our pot laws should be changed, but the political atmosphere had not yet become tolerable of such a position. “There is this thing called re-election”, I have been told.

After all, pot legalization is supposed to be a cause championed by dreadlocked hippies, Rastafarians, and record winning Olympians. And it is not like there have not been many ardent Democrats who have been drinking from the Reefer Madness punch bowl. Our own Democratic Lt. Governor, Brad Owen, has been a fierce anti-pot crusader for as long as I can recall. This stuff can be complicated.

Back in 1996 we took a year off from producing Hempfest. We decided instead to produce the first ever statewide Hemp Voter’s Guide. We polled every legislator in Washington state asking them if they supported medical marijuana, domestic industrial hemp production, and/or legal recreational use. The vast majority of lawmakers did not even bother respond to our inquiries. There were about 5 or 6 Democrats that did respond, with only a few of them even willing to openly support legal domestic hemp production.

Well, that was then and this is now. The winds of change bring a distinct aroma these days, and it is not the smell of the DEA burning a pot field nearby.

This is what democracy smells like.

After many, many years of swimming against the stream the water has shifted for us mota activistas, and this appears to be our time. In an election year where Republicans enjoyed a veritable landslide of victories pot reform advanced as if it were another tenet of the Republican platform.

Now, anyone who has been alive long enough may recall that republican Icons such as William F. Buckley, George Schultz, and Milton Friedman were staunchly anti-prohibition. In fact, the same year that we were polling Washington lawmakers Buckley penned a very cogent argument for legalization in the National Review. The Right Wing publication has held that policy position for all these years.

Despite the outspoken advocacy of these luminary gurus of the Republican establishment, the rank and file of the elephant party have been predictably rabid in their condemnation of everything cannabis, including reforming prohibition.

After all, the pot leaf was one of the prevailing symbols of the 1960’s leftist counter-culture. By legitimizing the devil’s leaf one could be defacto legitimizing the entire counter-culture. And there is the idea that cannabis is the gateway drug to harder drugs, a theory that has been a favorite of the anti-pot crusaders, yet totally debunked by science.

So why is one of the nation’s most ardent prohibitionists not only a democrat, but an heir to one of the most iconic, influential Democratic families of all time? Perhaps it is Patrick Kennedy’s 2006 conviction for driving while high on Oxycontin that has him living in perpetual reefer madness, one can only wonder. He may actually believe the stuff he says about the herb, or he may be posturing to gain public favor after being dethroned by his own drug controversy. It matters little to me.

What does matter is that Kennedy is wrong about prohibition doing anything other than perpetuating youth access, the black market, and record setting jail and prison populations by Americans of color.

Prohibition has been the new Jim Crow in many regards, meting out felony convictions while incarcerating a disproportionate amount of black and brown Americans, even though there may be more whites that use ganja regularly.

Proving that conventional wisdom is fleeting at best, current events reveal a growing cadre of Republican politicians publicly proclaiming their support for changing America’s draconian pot laws. Right Wing fixtures such as Rick Perry, Chris Christie, and even Sara Palin have expressed thoughts that the status quo is not working and that prohibition may be ineffective and outdated.

Shazam! It might not be only the polar ice caps that are melting. The Devil himself might be thinking about relocating to Florida soon.

Red state Alaska just legalized, even though Democrats were more than twice as likely to vote for legalization there. And then there is the bell-weather event of Republican Speaker John Boehner allowing two votes on cannabis to “go the floor”, which can be interpreted as the political ground shifting beneath our feet in real time.

Libertarian Republican firebrand, Rand Paul, has admirably touted the racial disparity in prosecutions for cannabis for some time, and he has walked his talk by suggesting that Congress stay out of the way of Washington DC implementing the reforms that the state’s citizens recently voted to enact. Initiative 71 was voted in by a vast majority of DC voters, seven in 10, and Paul rightly thinks it should stand as law.

Paul does say he thinks that pot will make people too lazy to show up for work. Perhaps Paul should hang out at Hempfest Central some time. He might change his opinion on that.

Now Congressman Paul has been joined by Republican Congressman Dana Rohrbacher in calling for the DC vote to be left alone. Now this is no surprise to me, because Rep Rohrbacher was a speaker at this year’s Seattle Hempfest. Yes, the Tea Party libertarian participated in Hempfest, calling for the government to stay out of people’s private lives.

After speaking from the Main Stage at Hempfest, Rohrabacher made another appearance at Hempfest’s coveted VIP Membership Party, which takes place inside of the event venue on Friday night, directly after the event closes. He gave a blistering speech about individual rights and government intrusions.

Now I am a lifelong partisan Democrat, and I lean so far to the left that my ear is almost on the ground. You can imagine my surprise as I realized I was developing a man-crush on Congressman Rohrbacher as he spoke.

We may be light-years apart on a variety of pressing issues, but as I listened to the congressman speak I really liked what I was hearing. And it was not just me. He was met with a roar of approval by nearly everyone in the huge Hemposium circus-tent. There must have been a few hundred people in attendance, and Rohrbacher was a star. Go figure.

Of course, the Republican tsunami that we just experienced could be the last great gasp of a party that is seeing its traditional base aging (as well as slowly losing its majority racial position in the United States).

It might be a good idea for the Grand Old Party to start embracing its more libertarian wing, because the Democratic establishment has been traversing out in the weeds in regard to rewarding its own base and articulating a coherent platform that stands for anything progressives hold dear at all.

Americans from every party deserve leadership that holds our inalienable rights above corporate interests and lobbyist influence. It is a national disgrace that America is the largest jailer per capita in the history of the world. We have an opportunity to right that wrong while providing our national economy and a shot in the arm in the form of a new emerging industry that has potential to take over the world.

Liberty, freedom, equality, and justice should not be partisan issues in a nation that markets itself as the last bastion of such principles.

For Republicans who feel that cannabis prohibition has been a costly and ineffective policy as well as a waste of resources, there is an organization to support. It is called Republicans against Marijuana Prohibition. http://www.rampgop.org/

Also posted at Seattlepi.com 

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Vivian McPeak

2014 Victories. The Hempire Strikes Back!*

It seems like just yesterday that I was a young cannabis activist enduring the incessant derision of naysayers who confidently insisted that cannabis (which you probably call marijuana) would always be prohibited. People told me I was “jousting at windmills”, “pissing in the wind”, that legalization was a “pipe-dream”, and that lobbying for legalization was a waste of time. They asked us why we were not working on an issue that had half a chance.

Of course, my fellow activists and I did not agree with them at all. We felt that if enough Americans learned the truth about prohibition they would react by changing the laws. We strongly knew that pot prohibition was a policy built on lies, fear, racism, and cultural bigotry.

Well, there ain’t nuthin’ like a little vindication after decades of ridicule. However, any personal satisfaction that may come with being proven at least partially right is strongly overshadowed by the awareness that millions of Americans will now live free from the threat of arrest or prosecution for minor pot offenses.

The thought of a more just, more free America is what has kept us pot activists going for so many years. We surely have not been motivated by some self-serving desire to be able to get high, because prohibition never stopped any of us from imbibing if that was what we wanted to do. Of course, prohibition has hardly kept anyone from using cannabis because it has been a dramatically failed policy all around.

Now, even in the midst of a sweeping Republican rebellion, cannabis legalization is still on the march. Alaska, Oregon, and Washingtonian D.C. now join Colorado and Washington as having seriously reformed pot laws. In 2016 ballot initiatives are expected in states such as Arizona, California, Maine and Nevada.

While Florida’s medical marijuana initiative did not win, the fact that 58% of the voters approved it means that it may have been a technical loss (60% of the vote was required) but it was still a big political victory. Any Florida politician now knows where the electorate stands on the issue.

In Oregon, it is now legal for citizens 21 and over to grow, possess, or sell cannabis. The state will now implement a commercial regulatory system similar to those of Washington and Colorado.

In Alaska, where a staggering 80 percent of all drug arrests have been for pot, cannabis production will be taxed and regulated, making it legal for those 21 and over to imbibe.

In Washington DC, where blacks comprise about half of the population but account for as much as 90% of arrests for drug possession, the future of legal pot remains hazy. DC has a unique status as a district rather than a state. Several lawmakers, all Republicans, have pledged to overrule the will of the voters and use the federal status of cannabis to block legalization, which is typical. Those politicians are still living in the old paradigm, and I believe they may be in denial of what is taking place here, which, of course, is the slow and eventual crumbling of the policy of pot prohibition.

Washington DC’s law would allow a person over 21 to possess up to two ounces for personal use and to grow up to 6 plants in their home. The fact that the Pentagon now sits on land that was the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s hemp plantation brings all that much irony, eh?

So it is not only the 1% celebrating in penthouses and boardrooms across the nation. No doubt, they are giddy that they are enjoying the spoils of Citizens United and their ability to literally hijack democracy, and the ultra-rich have never been richer. They have been consolidating their wealth throughout this entire economic collapse. That is what they always do. Well, now they have even more potential to chase that precious ROI, as a new emerging market is coalescing, and legal impediments to its expansion are falling away like pot plants careening out of a DEA helicopter and back into the hands of the people who planted them.

The era of scapegoating, of dehumanizing, of persecuting otherwise law abiding, responsible, contributing Americans over their use of pot has started to end. What will be the result?

Well, let’s think about it. Violent crime has been steadily decreasing the entire time legalization has been making progress. There is a study that was co-written by professors from San Diego State, Montana State, and the University of Colorado at Denver, that concluded that the suicide rates for males aged 20-29 decreased 10.9 percent in states where cannabis is legal. Gee, it ain’t like suicide is a problem in the United States these days, right?

Then there is the study published by author Dr. Daniel I Rees, published in the University of Chicago Press, which concluded that “traffic fatalities decreased between 8 and 11 percent after legalization.” The study went on to conclude that “total beer consumption dropped five percent post-legalization and that traffic fatalities in which at least one driver had a positive blood alcohol content level lessened by 13.2 percent.” Less alcohol and more pot equals less deaths.

Yes, the Hempire is striking back with ferocity. All across America for decades pot activists have been using the system the way it was intended; by the book, peacefully, and without incident. There has been no violence, no victims, & no social upheaval. That may be because the cannabis reform movement is a peace movement.

Finally, the people are pushing back, and in the process, pushing the envelope forward. Now it is time to roll up our sleeves and finish the job for good. What is the eventual end goal? TOTAL WORLD LEGALIZATION. That is the last stop of this freedom train.

“All aboard!”

*This article originally appeared in the Seattle P.I. “City Brights” guest blog column. 

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Katie Morse

Staff Check-In needs YOU!

HF08-22-10_KristiDunlavy_0016.volly2010.07

Do you love people? Do you love working in the nice cool shade? Can you work a computer keyboard? STAFF CHECK-IN is looking for friendly volunteers with lots of patience to register and check in all the volunteers from all 119 Hempfest crews. Come be a part of the heart and soul of our event, help guide and inform the volunteers from our comfy Staff Compound!

Email your Staff Director at; [email protected] for more info and the secret password.

We need help Tuesday, 8/12 through Tuesday, 8/19, day and night shifts- you get to choose!

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