Archive for April, 2017

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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Katie Morse

Seattle Hempfest’s greatest strength is also our greatest challenge!

Hempfest runs on Volunteer power!

This Protestival has been staffed by Volunteers for 25 years, and as we grow larger and more mainstream it’s harder to fill all the shifts…

Folklife crew

YOU can make a difference this season by helping us recruit more volunteers at fun events like the Northwest Folklife Festival

For over 20 years our crew has enjoyed wandering through Folklife at Seattle Center with Hempfest signs and handbills, and getting people excited about volunteering at the Protestival in August!

Meet us on Saturday or Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend – 5/27 & 5/28 – at 2pm or 4pm.

We will be meeting on the steps outside the Armory building [formerly the Center House] on the North side, the side you enter from the Harrison St. entrance– past the EMP and the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum– accessed from 5th Ave N. [East side of Seattle Center.]  The back steps of the Center House face Memorial Stadium and the First-Aid tent/Ambulance.

The bigger the crew, the more fun we have, but you can also just check in with us to pick-up some handbills and take off to your favorite stage! Feel free to wear your Hempfest shirt 😉


Folklife 2915 by Joshua Boulet


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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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