Pre-Fest: A Joint Fundraiser For Hempfest & The Eastern Expansion Of Legal Cannabis

WASHINGTON: On the Wednesday before the opening of the historic 25th Seattle Hempfest, cannabis’ brightest lights will be out in full force as former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, celebrity-turned-ganjapreneur Whoopi Goldberg, tv travel host Rick Steves, NORML’s Dr. Keith Saunders, New Hampshire Senatorial Candidate Roger Tilton and the Cannabis Cafe’s Madeline Martinez join forces for Pre-Fest: A Joint Fundraiser to Benefit Seattle Hempfest and the Eastward Expansion of Legal Cannabis.

Image-1Pre-Fest will be a combination of higher-level reform activism, a joint political and nonprofit fundraiser, a launch party for a new cannabis venture, with dabs, doobies, dinner and entertainment.

 The exclusive $250/ticket event will take place at the Stables in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle on Aug 17th, 5-6:30PM.


You’re Ready To Grow Your Own Pot, Travel Guru Rick Steves Says

WASHINGTON: Rick Steves doesn’t think Big Marijuana should control your pot. That’s one reason people in Washington state should be able to grow their own weed, Steves told KUOW’s Jeannie Yandel.

“I don’t want marijuana to go the route of tobacco and have Joe Camel and Big Tobacco and Big Marijuana” dominate the industry, Steves said. “If there’s money to be made, it’s going to attract big corporate interests and they’re going to have the clout. I like the idea of having home grow because it gives people an option to having to buy something from a giant organization. They can just have a few plants on the window sill, and it’s not a big deal.”

The host of Travels With Rick Steves was a big supporter of the state’s original marijuana initiative, I-502, which passed in 2012 and took effect last year. Now he supports a proposal to allow people to grow six of their own marijuana plants. It could be considered next year in the state Legislature.

Rick Steves On Washington’s Marijuana Law One Year Later: ‘We’re Able To Be Taken Seriously’

WASHINGTON: Travel guru Rick Steves was among the region’s business leaders who fought hard for the legalization of recreational pot.

When I sat down with him recently, I asked him to look back on his hard-fought victory of Initiative-502 and how Washington state has done in the year since. That anniversary is the subject of PSBJ reporter Sarah Aitchison‘s cover story this week. I asked Steves if he thought the state had gotten it right.

“There’s no way we could get it right,” said Steves, who runs Rick Steves‘ Europe Through the Back Door in Edmonds. “No political entity has ever done what Washington state did. And that’s not decriminalize it. We legalized, taxed and regulated it.”

So he insists, “The question isn’t, ‘Did we get it right?’ The question is, ‘Did we break the ice?'”

Rick Steves Campaigns For Marijuana Legalization In Oregon: Q&A

OREGON:  Rick Steves, the travel guru who was a key supporter of Washington’s recreational marijuana law in 2012, arrived in Oregon Tuesday to kick off a 9-stop tour promoting the campaign to legalize pot.

Steves, 59, of Edmonds, Wash., argued that marijuana legalization is a civil liberties issue that other countries have successfully grappled with. He pointed to the Netherlands’ experience with pot as a prime example, saying that country’s relatively liberal marijuana laws have not resulted in increased consumption.

He took time before his first appearance in Portland to talk with The Oregonian about his views and his work. (This Q&A has been edited for length.)

What is your message for Oregonians?


It’s A Carnival, But It’s Our Carnival: 2014 Seattle Hempfest

By Keith Stroup

I just returned a few days ago from the annual Seattle Hempfest, the 24th version of this extravaganza, and I thought I might share some of my reflections on this extraordinary and unique event.

First and foremost, Hempfest is truly an enormous undertaking that requires several days of long hours to assemble the stages and hundreds of individual exhibitor and vendor booths; three days of long hours to manage, including a security team to guard the park overnight and provisions to feed the hundreds of volunteers each day; and then several days of equally long hours to disassemble everything, clean the grounds and replace any damaged turf.

And keep in mind this is an all-volunteer event sponsored by Seattle Events, a not-for-profit corporation, and is also free to the public. The event costs the Hempfest organization nearly $900,000 to put on, and that money is raised largely from vendors, exhibitors and sponsors. The volunteer effort is headed by Hempfest co-founder and Executive Director Vivian McPeak. McPeak leads a core group of volunteers who meet year around to plan for the next Hempfest, and who run a downtown store called Hempfest Central selling all sorts of hemp-based products.

There are three primary stages (the Share Parker Memorial Main Stage; the Peter McWilliams Memorial Stage; and the Ralph Seeley Memorial Stage, all named for beloved legalization activists who are no longer with us) spread along a narrow piece of parkland called the Myrtle Edwards Park. The park extends more than a mile along the downtown Seattle waterfront, from which an array of bands perform each day, with several speakers scheduled for brief 5-minute speeches between music sets (while the next band is setting-up). Some of the prominent speakers this year included Congressman Dana Rohrabacher from CA, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and public television travel guru and author (and NORML board member) Rick Steves.

There is also a separate tent called the Hemposium, where panels are scheduled each day focusing on the politics of legalization along with cultivation techniques, and edibles and concentrates. Most Hempfest attendees, however, seem to enjoy strolling the grounds lined with literally hundreds of organizational booths and food vendors (no alcohol is permitted), enjoying the colorful crowd and the live music. Attracting a crowd to the more serious panels is a challenge each year, as most of the estimated 90,000 people attending each day are there to relax and have fun, not to attend seminars.

The first thing one becomes aware of when entering the Hempfest is the rather long, narrow walkway from the entrance just to get to the event itself; and just when you think you have reached the center of things, you realize the park continues for more than a mile, with every inch lined with booths and vendors on both sides. If one is speaking at one of the distant stages, you have to allow as much as an hour or more to wade through the crowds on the narrow, crowded pathways to arrive at your destination. Most attendees seem to come for the day, making one big loop through the park to catch a glimpse of everything, before picking a comfortable place to spend time listening to music and speeches at one of the stages, before starting the trek out of the park and back to reality.

Also, anyone attending for the first time would be amazed at the colorful and creative look of many who attend. Although the majority are ordinary-looking folks who have come to enjoy a day in the park with other marijuana affectionados, a fair number clearly see the Hempfest as an opportunity to fly their freak-flags. People with bazar clothing and costumes, and sometimes face and body paint; a few were topless with marijuana leaves painted strategically on their bodies. It is, after all, a counter-cultural celebration of personal freedom.

After my first Hempfest, I told a friend that I had discovered the answer to the question of where all the hippies from Woodstock had gone: I saw them at the Hempfest!

And everyone is in a celebratory mood, enjoying the scene and soaking-in the good vibes. Since alcohol is not allowed anywhere in the park, there are no drunks, no fights and none of the problems one might find in a crowded beer garden. Instead those who want are high on some form of marijuana, and all are feeling mellow and celebrating the reality that marijuana has now been legalized in Washington state.

NORML, along with WA NORML, always has a booth near the main stage (the NORML Women of Washington have another booth nearby), next to the High Times booth, which allows us to hang out with our friends from the magazine, and back each other up if someone needs to leave to deliver a talk at some distant stage. With the two biggest brands in the legalization field being next to each other, that is always a popular area with lots of foot traffic. But by mid-afternoon on all three days, the park is jam-packed with people and it is a challenge to keep the crowd moving, regardless of where one is located in the park.

On the first evening, Hempfest throws a special party at the Hemposium tent for all speakers (and there are more than 100) along with their adult guests and those who have purchased VIP tickets. On the second evening there are no official events, but generally there are a couple of private, invitation-only parties. This year one party was sponsored by WA NORML,the Marijuana Business Association (MJBA) and O.penvape, a company that sells small pen vaporizers; and the second by DOPE Magazine and Dutch Master, a cultivation nutrient company. For most of us who have a booth at the event, we are exhausted by the end of the day, and can barely drag our ass to an evening party. But as you would imagine, these are terrific parties. Good food; great marijuana in all sorts of varieties, and an open bar. What’s not to like?

And because there are thousands of people in Seattle from the newly legal marijuana industry all across the country, there are generally a couple of late night private parties that one only learns about through word-of-mouth. Just the type of parties I would have enjoyed when I was a little younger, but generally pass-up today. I am an old guy, and my internal clock just does not accommodate a lot of late parties!

The Hempfest theme this year was “Time, Place and Manner,” focusing on the need under the new WA legalization law to limit one’s smoking to private situations. As their website states, the “Seattle Hempfest seeks to advance the cause of Cannabis policy reform through education, while advancing the public image of the Cannabis advocate or enthusiast through example.” They want to encourage responsible use, while celebrating all things marijuana-related.

This was further reflected in a new feature this year; 21 and older smoking tents (called Adult Lounges) at two locations within the park. Of course lots of attendees also smoked as they strolled the grounds, and there were no arrests, but it was nonetheless a thoughtful gesture by Hempfest (something they were urged to do by the Seattle police department) to include these fully-legal smoking areas this year, intended to avoid anyone having to worry about receiving a citation for public smoking and at reducing youth exposure to pot smoking during Hempfest.

By the end of the three-day event, I was exhausted and happy to head home to Washington, DC. But the make-believe world that is the Seattle Hempfest is an annual spectacle I look forward to attending each year. There really is nothing quite like it anywhere.

Sent from iCloud

Keith Stroup

NORML Legal Counsel

Director Riley Morton Talks About Washington’s Road To Legalization

By David Rheins

In just a couple of weeks Washington’s first recreational marijuana retail establishments will open for business, and if Colorado‘s booming new marketplace is any indication, the Green Rush will bring much needed jobs, tax revenues and liberty to the Evergreen State.  But the optimism about the nascent industry’s prospects were not always so rosy.

The tale of how Washington passed its historic voter initiative (I-502) giving adults 21+ the right to possess and smoke marijuana, and setting the groundwork for a state regulated commercial marketplace — petty politics, contentious factions, medical marijuana dissenters and random naysayers included — is the subject of Riley Morton and Nils Cowan’s documentary, “Evergreen: The Road To Legalization.”  The film debuted last week in New York and Denver, and will be featured at SIFF in the Seattle later this month. I wanted to check Riley’s pulse to see how he was feeling about the future of legal weed.

Q: Washington first recreational pot shops are expected to open the second week of July. Your film, Evergreen: The Road To Legalization, ends with some rather skeptical predictions about the success of the nascent industry.  How optimistic are you that Washington State will be able to create a viable marketplace?

Screenshot 2014-06-20 15.09.11

A: I’m actually fairly optimistic about it. The WLCB process has definitely left a lot to be desired, but i do think that we’re headed in the right direction, and within a few years, the recreational stores will be accomplishing most of the goals that i502 tried to accomplish. I have little expectation that any government agency can get anything right on it’s first try. So its almost unreasonable to assume that there won’t be any growing pains and inequities in the system. The fact that we are having this discussion at all would have blown my mind 5 short years ago.

Q: What do you say to critics who suggest that your film portrays the medical marijuana movement in a rather negative light, and does not adequately give credit to activists who’ve been fighting in the trenches for years so that I-502’s passage would be possible?

A: I’d say that this film is as objective as realistically possible covering this story. We give plenty of air time to all sides of the issue, and let them convey their messages. We aren’t creatively editing anyone’s message and there is no voice over in the film leading the audience in any way. Regarding the activists, given that our main goal is to tell a compelling story, i think we did a great job including folks like Jeff Steinborn, Doug Hiatt, and Vivian McPeak in the film. We let them all say their piece and presented it without bias in the film. It’s hard for me to imagine a reasonable person objecting to the film in this way.

Q: Travel personality and NORML Board member Rick Steves, who plays a major role in the film as one of the financial backers of I-502, was also a financial backer of the film.  We heard you funded the documentary via Kickstarter, and when you were shy of your goal, he wrote a check for the balance. True?

A: Not exactly. In the summer of 2012, Rick Steves heard we were having trouble with financing and wrote us a check for $10k. In the real world of feature documentary production, this is a very small portion of an overall film budget. The crucial part was the timing. At this stage, no one really believed that this was a real story, and our prospective broadcast partners weren’t putting any money into the film at all. Nils and I were ready to throw in the towel after our failed Kickstarter, and he basically rescued the project singlehandedly. Rick had (and wanted) exactly zero editorial control. He was never in our edit suite, and he never even saw a cut until the film was festival ready. His money came with no strings attached, and it was essentially a gift because he saw that we were trying to tell an important story, and we were doing so in an ethical and responsible way.

We knew that we’d come under criticism for accepting the donation, but faced with the prospect of not making any film at all after over a year of work on the project, it was a decision we felt like we had to make.


Q: Your film recently debuted in New York, how was that?

A: It was really fun. I love that town. A bunch of the EVERGREEN crew made it out there, and on the premiere night itself, Ethan Nadelmann from the Drug Policy Alliance showed up and held court after the film about the legalization efforts in Uruguay, Jamaica, and right here in the U.S.A.

Q: You’ll be showcased at SIFF, what do you have planned?

A: We’ll be doing a lot of Q and A’s with the filmmakers and subjects opening weekend, and are working on a big after party for Friday Night 6/27. Folks can sign up for our newsletter at for details as they become available.

Q: Will we the film be available on DVD or Netflix soon?

A: DVD will be out towards the end of the summer, and we’re hoping for Netflix and other streaming outlets shortly thereafter. But the best thing that your audience can do to ensure eventual placement on Netflix is show up at the Seattle screenings the week of 6/27. We need sizable audiences to prove that there is an audience for films like this, and that is best done with box office receipts.

Rick Steves To Be Awarded Lifetime Achievement Award at Cannabis Cup in Seattle

WASHINGTON: Rick Steves, the host of the popular public television series, “Rick Steves’ Europe,” the nationally syndicated radio show, “Travel with Rick Steves” and the author of over 50 books and travel guides, will receive the Dr. Lester Grinspoon Lifetime Achievement Award from HIGH TIMES on Sunday September 8 during the Cannabis Cup in Seattle. [Read more…]

Rick Steves To Be Awarded Lifetime Achievement Award at Cannabis Cup in Seattle

WASHINGTON: Rick Steves, the host of the popular public television series, “Rick Steves’ Europe,” the nationally syndicated radio show, “Travel with Rick Steves” and the author of over 50 books and travel guides, will receive the Dr. Lester Grinspoon Lifetime Achievement Award from HIGH TIMES on Sunday September 8 during the Cannabis Cup in Seattle. [Read more…]