|Hempfest Goes Out On High Note|
Posted by CN Staff on August 21, 2005 at 10:20:26 PT|
By Philip Dawdy in Seattle
Seattle, WA -- Thousands of marijuana fans openly celebrated their love of cannabis at a Seattle festival, despite a recent ruling by the United States' highest court backing federal law making pot illegal.
The crowd of revellers that strolled, snacked, socialised and smoked their way through Hempfest in the northwestern US city of Seattle tallied approximately 75,000 people by sundown, according to organizers.
Many festival attendees wandered the downtown park smoking marijuana cigarettes in the summer heat.
Seattle police safeguarded the cannabis aficionados, not bothering to enforce local pot laws that make recreational marijuana smoking the city's lowest crime priority.
Hempfest is political in nature and protected by free-speech provisions of the federal Constitution, regardless of federal marijuana laws, concluded sergeant Lou Eagle, who headed the police detail at the event.
"We are there simply to protect a large group of people from others' misbehaving," Eagle said. "We are not out there to enforce the marijuana laws."
Arrests at the 14-year-old annual event have been rare and, usually, didn't involve marijuana charges, Eagle said.
Police only arrest a pot smoker if they puff in a cop's face and ignore warnings to stop, Eagle said.
Speakers condemned marijuana laws as unjust and urged support for reforms that would make cannabis legal in the United States.
They condemned a two-month-old US Supreme Court ruling that said federal laws making marijuana illegal trumped state laws legalizing the drug for medical use.
"Now, we are talking about medical marijuana users dying in jail," said Hempfest speaking Douglas Hiatt, an attorney who said he often defends medical marijuana users.
US states such as Washington and California already treat recreational pot use as barely worth the attention of police or the courts.
"We have got to take back the power," said 46-year-old Hiatt. "It's an issue of democracy."
In the 12 states where local laws condone medical marijuana, it is commonly used to treat pain and appetite lose associated with cancer treatments and AIDS.
Federal officials view marijuana as a dependency-producing drug lacking medical benefit and see Hempfest activists as disconnected from reality, according to Tom Rile of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
"There's an urban myth that we are filling jails with low-level marijuana users," Riley said. "Almost everyone in jail for pot is charged with trafficking in large amounts of marijuana."
Dominic Holden of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws defended Hempfest, calling it "an institution that has made talking about marijuana use socially acceptable in Seattle."
For the less-politically minded, the two-day event that started Saturday was an opportunity to taste hemp-based baked goods and listen to live music.
"Marijuana is less dangerous than other drugs," said David Burdick, 30. "We ought to have the choice to use it."
Hempfest is billed by organizers as the largest marijuana legal reform event in the US.
Related Article & Web Site:
Hempfest Fans Rockin' The Joint
|Comment #4 posted by FoM on August 22, 2005 at 22:32:22 PT|
|Drug Unenforcement Goes on Ballot|
In a freewheeling but changing town, voters will decide whether to make possession of marijuana the lowest priority for marshals.
By Scott Gold, Times Staff Writer
August 22, 2005
TELLURIDE, Colo. — Nestled in the San Juan Mountains, home to moneyed hippies, artists and nature buffs, Telluride is a live-and-let-live kind of town.
A sign assures visitors that they are in a "civil liberties safe zone."
The 15-mph speed limit, which applies in most of the town, is largely enforced by placing a police hat on the tip of a stick and perching it in the driver's seat of a squad car.
In the center of town is the Freebox, a collection of wooden bins where people swap bootleg concert tapes, alpine gear and more, regulated only by the principles of karma.
So perhaps it should come as no surprise that although Telluride cannot legalize marijuana, it may do the next closest thing: officially declare possession of pot for personal use to be the town's "lowest law enforcement priority."
The Town Council voted 6 to 0 this month to put the issue on the Nov. 1 ballot. Residents will be asked whether to instruct town marshals — the local law enforcement — to make the investigation, arrest and prosecution of marijuana possession their lowest priority. The proposal applies only to the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana by people 18 or older.
Several cities already have what proponents term "sensible" pot ordinances, most notably Seattle, where voters in 2003 approved an initiative to make the possession of small amounts of marijuana law enforcement's lowest priority.
Still, Telluride's vote will be closely watched, experts said, because it is the first marijuana ballot proposal since the Supreme Court ruled in June that the federal government could enforce its zero-tolerance policy on pot, even in the 10 states that permit its use for medical purposes. Colorado is among those states, as is California.
Executive Director Allen F. St. Pierre of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws said the fact that the Supreme Court did not strike down the state laws seemed to suggest "concern by justices about thwarting local control, local values."
People who favor relaxing marijuana laws — many of whom believe the government wastes public resources by targeting low-level drug offenders — hope Telluride sets a national example, St. Pierre said.
"The great disconnect at the policy level is here in Washington, D.C.," he said. "Congress is frozen in a sort of reefer madness that states and localities are not."
But Calvina Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation, said the agenda behind local initiatives "clearly is the legalization of drugs…. They have made it very clear that they are going to keep pushing."
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|Comment #3 posted by Nick Thimmesch on August 22, 2005 at 08:38:18 PT|
|"There's an urban myth that we are filling jails with low-level marijuana users," Riley said. "Almost everyone in jail for pot is charged with trafficking in large amounts of marijuana."|
As the tv ad used to boast: "It's not nice to fool mother nature".
Just as it's not nice to tell outright lies (again) when you are a taxpayer paid government spokesman.
Tom, Tom, Tom: time to get an honest job...maybe press secretary for Barney Frank?
I know you'se guys at ONDCP monitor this site (at government expense), so please pass along to Riley: he ain't bee talking to me since this.
The One Hitters tried to reschedule, but the captain of We Czar the Champions said they were “booked through August.”
Now the once-docile potheads are irate.
“Obviously one of the ‘higher ups’ at ONDCP saw the schedule and nixed the game,” NORML’s spokesman, Nick Thimmesch, told HOH. “Perhaps they were spooked by the notion of BYOB — bring your own bong!”
Kris Krane, NORML’s associate director and co-captain of the One Hitters, said: “For years the ONDCP has been unwilling to engage drug policy reformers in a serious debate on the issues. Now they even refuse to engage us in a friendly game of softball.”
Tom Riley, a spokesman for the drug czar’s office, said there was “no grand policy formulation” to dodge playing the One Hitters. He said the stoners couldn’t possibly have tried to play We Czar the Champions for years, because the team is brand new.
“This just goes to show the effects of marijuana use on judgment and reasoning,” Riley joked.
At first he toed the party line and blamed his team’s decision not to play the One Hitters on a dearth of players. But then he thought better of it and decided it was a policy decision after all.
“I wouldn’t think we would play any team that promotes drug use,” Riley said, adding, “that includes teams that promote smoking meth or smoking crack.”
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|Comment #2 posted by FoM on August 22, 2005 at 08:18:40 PT|
|Last night I updated my Farm Aid page with this years banner. Here it is.|
[ Post Comment ]
|Comment #1 posted by ekim on August 21, 2005 at 19:37:11 PT|
|Comment #1 posted by Hope on August 20, 2005 at 09:55:43 PT
Briefing on DEA Hearing on Medical Marijuana (12:30pm) - LIVE
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