Seattle’s Hempfest Takes On New Feel After Legalization Of Marijuana

WASHINGTON:  This weekend, more than 100,000 people are expected to flock to Myrtle Edwards Park to partake in one of Seattle’s most unique and aromatic festivals: Hempfest.

The festival started almost 25 years ago as a movement to legalize recreational marijuana in Washington state, but now the focus has shifted to a loftier goal of promoting legalization nationwide.

“We’ve adopted two people that are doing life without parole for cannabis: Jimmy Romans and George Martorano,” said Hempfest General Manager Sharon Whitson. “Jimmy was sentenced in 2013 to life without parole for marijuana distribution and George Martorano is the longest-serving, first-time, non-violent offender in the history of the United States of America. He’s been in prison for 34 years for marijuana distribution in Florida.”

At Hempfest, you’ll see Romans’ and Martorano’s faces plastered all over posters and hand-outs about the War on Drugs.


Hempfest 2015: Seattle Festival Forced To Abandon Adult-Only ‘Marijuana Gardens


WASHINGTON: Last year the organizers of Seattle Hempfest put up “fenced-off, out-of-public-view, 21-and-over adult lounges” or “marijuana gardens” in an attempt to evolve with legalization … and to separate legal adult use from the herds of young folks that flock to the annual mega marijuana “protestival.”

This year, they had to toss the gardens and all their benefits because of a section written into omnibus legislation that became law in Washington last month. The new law makes providing a place for public marijuana use a class-c felony. And boy is that a really bad idea.

(The mega-event runs three days — Aug. 14-16 — on three Seattle waterfront parks.)

In fact, it’s a classic prohibition-style bad idea, because it makes a felony out of a common-sense, community-based accommodation of a very common and generally accepted reality. People use marijuana. People use marijuana while socializing, often in public. And, turns out, voters don’t want to fill up jails with people just because they use marijuana.