Vivian McPeak

How To Do HEMPFEST (what you need to know)

Seattle HEMPFEST is held Friday Noon – 8 PM, Sat, Sun, 10 AM – 8 PM

August 18, 19, 20, Myrtle Edwards Park and Centennial Park, Seattle

$10 Suggested Donation

11870706_10153519523056000_2619827972575533034_nThe 26th annual Seattle HEMPFEST “protestival” will feature 4 stages of political speech and musical support (featuring roughly 200 guest speakers and musical performances). In addition, HEMPFEST will consist of 350 arts, crafts, food, and informational vendors, a gigantic “circus tent” with panel discussions, and an hour long indigenous tribute to the Standing Rock struggle at the Main Stage on Saturday.

The following is additional information that attendees may find helpful. Additional info on Lodging, Bands and Speakers, Memberships, Friday Night VIP Party, ADA Info, Event Map, and Online Merchandise, and more, can be found at 365 days of the year.


Admission to Seattle HEMPFEST is free, but free speech is not! It will cost almost $800,000 to produce Seattle HEMPFEST this year and without your donations we would not exist. Please remember donate what you can and keep Hempfest alive! We are asking for a $10 donation for your ability to enjoy over 100 musical acts, as many guest speakers, & hundreds of vendors. This year HEMPFEST will be missing two stages, one we have had for 19 years, due to low donations.

Seattle Hempfest is a constitutionally protected free-speech event; therefore HEMPFEST cannot restrict access based upon age or admission fee. There are no age restrictions for attending Seattle HEMPFEST. We suggest that minors wishing to attend Hempfest discuss the matter with the appropriate parent or guardian first. The passage of Initiative I-502 did not change the admission policy of HEMPFEST.

You can stay home and watch HEMPFEST on the livestream at or download the Hempfest App, also found at

How do you get to Hempfest?  

Our new NO WAIT entrance, The West Thomas Street Pedestrian and Bicycle Overpass, is accessible at 3rd Ave W & W Harris Streets just north of Seattle Center.  This entrance has great parking potential being just 4 blocks north of Key Arena.  It’ll take your right across the vehicle mote – Elliot & Western Avenues, where people risk their lives jay walking to get to Hempfest.  Save a life!  Take The West Thomas Street Pedestrian and Bicycle Overpass!

Bridge_Sign (2)

To access the North Entrance, across the Amgen Pedestrian Bridge off of W Prospect Street. It has an elevator and is wheelchair accessible, placing the avid attendee just north of Seattle HEMPFEST’s north entrance. There is very little parking at W Prospect Street. So your best bet is to walk, bike, or take a metro bus to that location. For example, take metro bus 18 to north entrance, and 15 to south entrance. There are many other Metro buses routes that can drop you at either entrance too. Bicycles should enter through the North entrance to utilize the bike racks.

To access the South Entrance, along with tens of thousands of other people, enter the Olympic Sculpture Park on Alaskan Way W. Be prepared for potential detours and follow the signs and/or monitor’s directions if needed. Downtown Seattle has several parking garages. Attaching bikes to the fence at Olympic Sculpture Park is not allowed.

Do not try and cross the railroad tracks in the north end, or jump the fence. One year BNSF Police wrote 11 tickets for people on tracks, and it is not worth risking your life.

What Not to Bring

Remember, No Pets, No Alcohol, No Narcotics, No Weapons (No guns or fixed blade knives, etc), No unauthorized vending, No private sound systems are allowed. Folding pocket knives (3-1/2″ or smaller) are OK. There is No Camping, no Propane Torches, No Aerosol Spray Paint, and No Fireworks allowed. You can bring unopened plastic bottles of water, but don’t bring it in a glass bottle, and don’t bring a commercial amount.

You can bring no more than one ounce of cannabis (marijuana). Please be aware that public consumption of cannabis is not legally permitted under I-502.

Note: It is an enhanced felony to sell cannabis, cannabis food, or other drugs in a city park. People selling cannabis, cannabis foods, and illegal drugs will be ejected from the event, and risk arrest and prosecution.

Illegal Street Vending

Warnings and citations were issued by city officials to illegal vendors in the past – Ticket fees range from $500 – $1200 and risk of confiscation. Street vending requires both a city biz license and a street vending permit from Dept. of Licensing. People selling water, food, paraphernalia, medibles, and other items illegally outside of HEMPFEST will be targeted by city enforcement employees.


Don’t bring pets to HEMPFEST or Leave Pets in vehicle. Cars left in direct sunlight turn into lethal ovens, reaching fatal temperatures of 130 degrees or more within just a few minutes.

Even dogs left locked in cars in the shade with the windows cracked on hot days are at risk of brain damage or death. Dogs must cool themselves through panting and their systems can’t handle high temperatures.

Also, be aware that vinyl seats in vehicles get hot under animals’ feet and prevents them from perspiring through their paws.

Pet owners can be held criminally liable for committing cruelty to animals if a pet dies, or is found suffering from heat prostration. If you see an animal that may be in need of assistance, or if you have questions, contact the Seattle Animal Shelter at (206) 386-7387 (PETS).

Seattle Hempfest complies with Washington State service animal laws. Service animal owners may be required to show a dog license, and prove that they have “poop-bags.”

Getting to Hempfest

Note: During Set-Up (August 14–17) and Tear-Down (August 21-23) bicyclists and pedestrians should use caution and take the West Path. Please don’t go at your normal speed and remain aware. For public safety, BICYCLE RIDERS MUST DISMOUNT during Seattle Hempfest event days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, August 18-20.) That includes ALL 3 DAYS DURING EVENT HOURS.

Perhaps the best way to get to HEMPFEST is by bike. Myrtle Edwards Park is part of the Elliott Bay Trail which connects to the massive Burke Gilman Trail. One may easily navigate the regional trail system from Sammamish, Lake Forest Park, Bothell, Kirkland, etc.

When approaching on the Burke-Gilman, one has two main routes. The first option is to cross the historic Fremont Bridge, the most frequently opened drawbridge in the United States. Take a left onto Westlake and ride along the west side of Lake Union all the way downtown.

The second option is to ride the Burke-Gilman to the Ballard Locks, which are open from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily. After crossing the locks, coast through Magnolia, and into the magnificent train yards before hitting the glistening waterfront. If the locks are closed, take the 15th Ave Bridge, right on Dravus, left on 20th and down by the train yards.

To the south, the Elliott Bay Trail runs past downtown to SoDo and the stadiums, where one can (sort of) connect with the I-90 trail or continue south along Alaskan/Marginal Way to hook up with the West Seattle Bridge.

Mon-Thurs (August 14-17), and Mon-Wed (August 21-23) from 7:30-8:30 AM is vehicle free time on East path of Myrtle Edwards and Centennial parks. HEMPFEST vehicle traffic is suspended for that hour during weekday set-up and tear-down to respect morning bike commuters who use the parks.

Bicycles should enter through the North entrance in Centennial Park to utilize the bike racks, or use the bike racks at Bay and Elliot. Attaching bikes to the fence at Olympic Sculpture Park is not allowed.


Did you know that you can skip the long lines at the south entrance of HEMPFEST, and enjoy many Hempfest parties throughout the year (each with dinner and entertainment on us), all for a small annual membership? What better way to support HEMPFEST? Share this tip with your friends!

Starting at only $30/year (not much more than the $10 suggested donation for the 3-day Festival), a HEMPFEST membership is your special access pass to the express VIP Entrance along Alaskan Way, and to many year-round events including a costumed Tokers Ball on Halloween, more parties in December and February, a huge 420Fest for 4/20, and a Solstice House Party inside Fremont Fair.
Come network with cannabis activists, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts, write letters to pot prisoners, get informed about prohibition and reform efforts, browse hemp merchandize or win raffle prizes, while enjoying free food and music, all-inclusive for a small $30 annual Membership!

Higher levels also include exclusive perks like Member & VIP shirts, backstage visits at Hempfest, or invitations to our official on-site VIP Party Friday night, with all the Speakers and HEMPFEST VIPs. Go to for info.

Lost and Found Items

If you lost an item at Seattle HEMPFEST, we may have it! We keep found items for 60 days after each Hempfest. Call or email a detailed description of your lost item, including your full name, phone and email, and if we have it we will get it back to you. We go to great lengths to attempt to get attendee’s lost property back to them, but it makes it much easier if you contact us proactively. If we have it we’ll try hard to get it to you. We cannot hang onto people’s lost items for long, so please be on top of it. If we are still on-site immediately after HEMPFEST, you can check for your lost item at our Operations Compound, just south of the King County pump house, the brick building at the junction of paths in Myrtle Edwards Park.

After we pull out on Wednesday, August 23, call us at 206-36-4HEMP or email us at [email protected]

In addition to being the largest annual free speech event in America, and the world’s largest cannabis reform event, Seattle HEMPFEST has many components that qualify it as the most socially responsible cannabis reform event, including, but not limited to:

  • renting extra AED (heart defibrillators) because of the length of our event
  • registering almost 10,000 attendees to vote during the event
  • proactively working with Seattle Animal Shelter on protecting pets and messaging to pet owners
  • proactively contacting Fish and Wildlife asking them to close the Pier in centennial Park during Hempfest for environmental reasons
  • responsible messaging from our stages (for 25 years) reinforcing our sincere respect for all first responders (including LEOs)
  • Spending 2 months annually in an effort to track down the owners of our extensive lost and found items
  • Instituting a Code Adam lost child protocol and training to respond effectively in the case of a missing child at the event
  • Operating an ecology crew is a (both paid and volunteer) refuse management operation that works almost non-stop within the event to handle the large load of trash the event generates; sorting for recycle, compost, or landfill, and routinely processing an average of around 500 cubic yards of trash. Hempfest leaves the parks spotless, and even picks up thousands of cigarette butts
  • In 2014 Hempfest worked with a University of Washington professor to develop an economic impact study that revealed that Seattle HEMPFEST festival patrons spent approximately $7.1 million in King County in relation to their visits to the festival. Volunteers and musicians were estimated to have spent $0.226 million in relation to their participation in the festival in King County, while Seattle HEMPFEST Festival exhibitors and food vendors are estimated to have had expenses of $1.8 in relation to participation in the festival in King County. In addition, Seattle HEMPFEST Festival organizers incurred costs of $0.924 million, of which $0.744 million were made in King County (Full study found on tab at
  • Aggressively enforcing a no illegal sales policy with our trained, volunteer Safety Patrol (our internal security force).

Past guest speakers at Seattle HEMPFEST have included actor Woody Harrelson, Travel Guru Rick Steves, Seattle musician/author Krist Novoselic, U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrbacher, former US Congressman Dennis Kucinich, former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel, Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray (as a candidate), former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, Seattle City Atty Pete Holmes, State Rep. Roger Goodman, State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (currently King County Council member), former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, Seattle Police Department Spokesman Sean Whitcomb, poet and community activist Nate Howard, former Dallas Cowboys center Mark Stepnoski, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition founder Jack Cole, former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, former Libertarian vice presidential nominee Judge Mike Gray, etc.













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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.


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.


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.


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



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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.

Also posted at 

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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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Vivian McPeak

I-502 backlash?

A statewide I-502 backlash or reasonable pushback? You decide.

Marijuana. Just the mention of the word conjures up stereotypical associations: a bleary-eyed dreadlocked hippie in a tie-dye, a teenage slacker lounging on a sofa, bong in hand, or a shady drug cartel mule peddling the illicit shrubbery across a porous border crossing.

For a certain group of people, however, the word marijuana immediately floods their minds with apparitions of jewel encrusted dollar signs. The recent passage of quasi-legalization measures in Washington and Colorado have resulted in what could be characterized as a green-rush.

“Potrepreneurs” have been frothing at the mouth while contemplating the new emerging market that legal weed promises, practically exclaiming “there’s gold in them there buds!”  Many of them are already in the business, and they anticipate emerging from the harsh, cold darkness of the black market into the warm sunshine of a white market.  Time will tell how many of them get left behind.

If money actually makes the world go round there is no doubt that the globe is spinning at a greater velocity than it did just a mere few months ago, with the new prospect of legitimate commerce in a legal marijuana industry. Groups like The National Cannabis Industry Association have sprung up, eager to manufacture a new image for the nefarious vegetable.

In fact, the current condition of our stumbling economy has been a perfect storm for reform. As a full-time cannabis reform activist I have long been frustrated, demoralized even, by the stark reality that speaking of the social inequities, wholesale injustice, and routine cruel mistreatment of American citizens leaves most people unmoved.  But one mention of the potential revenue that legalization could precipitate in terms of tax dollars and retail sales evokes great interest.  Many closed minds seem to suddenly pry open when the subject of making money from a legal open cannabis market comes up. Well, to quote Malcolm X, we’ll legalize “by any means necessary.”

The reality is that in every community in America there exists a healthy black market operating around illegal pot sales. There are few drive-by shootings, and no dead bodies, which is why you rarely hear about the underground pot economy. This has been the case for many, many years. There is so much illegal pot being grown, sold, and consumed that cannabis has been designated as the number one cash crop in several states – while it is still illegal. Imagine what potential lies in a legal white-market for above the ground sales of the sticky green substance.

But with all the interest from venture capitalists and out of state investors there are very few entrepreneurs willing to dive directly into the retail marijuana business. The attorneys I have spoken with tell me that the vast majority of the start-up businesses being created as a result of I-502 are focusing on ancillary goods and services. Intimidated by several factors, including the inability to open a business account at a bank and trepidation that the federal government will intervene, investors are focusing on products such as point-of-sale systems, safes, containers, security services, and industrial strength grow-lights.

During the I-502 campaign the cannabis reform community was divided on the initiative.  There was much controversy over various components of the legislation; chiefly the limits set by the DUI provision, no home production, and a multi-pronged taxing scheme. Others opposed the initiative based upon their contention that it is written in a way as to be easily superseded by federal law. Of course, that issue may only come up if the federal government files a lawsuit in federal court to stop the implementation of I-502 in Washington.

It will be interesting to see how many of the initiative’s proponents are satisfied with the new law after it has been implemented.  It has recently been reported that under I-502’s zoning there are only a smattering of places in Seattle, for example, that a cannabis store would be allowed, chiefly in the industrial areas. The reason for this is the framers of the initiative followed federal guidelines in an attempt to stave off the ire of the feds.

Also, it is being reported that there has already been somewhat of a backlash in areas of the state other than Seattle. There are moratoriums in place and being considered in various parts of the state, and in an amazing display of compassion the cities of Tacoma and Everett have declared medical marijuana a nuisance. This is the new trend as towns and municipalities move away from the criminal courts, where there are now constitutional protections, to civil courts where they still hold the upper hand.

There is an apartment complex on Mercer Island that has banned pot smoking, but they did not stop there.  They actually tried to tell a tenant that he was not allowed to orally ingest his medical cannabis in his apartment. They have since rescinded that absurd directive. The man is a veteran, and he takes cannabis to treat symptoms of injuries he received in service to our country—ironically, “fighting for our freedom.”

There appears to be other people who think that it is a good idea to restrict the vulnerable among us from using cannabis in any form at any time.  State Representative Jan Angel, 26th District (R – Port Orchard), has introduced a bill to make it a requirement for anyone receiving assistance to pass a drug-test.  She has included marijuana, even though Washington voters have legalized its use, because it is illegal under state law.

So, Representative Angel wants to penalize anyone on public assistance who has in any way ingested an illegal substance, including medical marijuana, even though a huge portion of legal medical marijuana patients are so sick they are on assistance. Ah, compassion in action.

“We just want to make sure that on entitlement programs that we are feeding children and families and not a drug habit,” Angel said of House Bill 1190. While there may be noble intent behind the bill, there appears to be no exception for state legal medical marijuana patients, or for anyone on assistance who may be offered a toke by some generous acquaintance.  God forbid anyone on welfare gets a toke of pot. However, they will be forced to take all their prescribed pharmaceutical drugs or benefits can be cut off.

And Rep. Angel works for the citizens of Washington State, not the federal government. Why she feels it is OK to usurp the will of the voters here and sabotage access to medical marijuana for the poorest of us is curious. Does she also plan to test welfare recipients for alcohol and tobacco? Of course not. There is no justice in the War on Drugs.

This is the trend. Some criminal defense attorneys in this state are indicating that multiple jurisdictions appear to be preparing to go after medical marijuana with a vengeance. They predict that these towns and cities appear to be preparing to interpret I-502 as decreeing that only state licensed marijuana grow operations are legal. That means that medical marijuana patients and collectives will be left out in the cold. The same legal beagles think that medical marijuana dispensaries will be treated in an identical manner, despite the fact that a different majority of voters implemented medical marijuana into state law in 1998.

Some areas are already ignoring the community garden directive (Washington RCW 69.51A.085) which allows legal patients to employ community grow operations and distribute medical marijuana throughout their collective. The other way that communities could dance around I-502 implementation is by using zoning laws. They would just zone marijuana stores into oblivion. And it is not just the rural counties. New zoning restrictions are reportedly being created for Seattle as well.

Since nobody has ever dismantled marijuana prohibition before, it is hard to make a general assessment about the effectiveness and practicality of I-502. The jury is still out on the initiative’s impacts. Clearly, an international media grassfire has been ignited by the two states legalizing possession and an unprecedented momentum has energized the national discussion about reform. What remains to be seen is what the local implications will be for the voters who passed the two citizen initiatives and how satisfied they will be with the final result.

– Vivian McPeak, from Seattle PI blog post.

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