Hempfest a Pretty Laid-Back Affair

Hempfest a Pretty Laid-Back Affair
Posted by CN Staff on September 02, 2003 at 08:04:43 PT
By Lori Coolican, Edmonton Sun
Source: Edmonton Sun
They came, they sat, they toked up. And nobody got uptight about it. Edmonton's annual Hempfest drew about 100 unashamed marijuana enthusiasts to the Alberta Legislature grounds yesterday with joints in hand. "I just heard of it and I'm like, 'Pot? Yeah, I'll come,' " said Bri Branstow as he rolled another for a group of friends relaxing on the lawn. Having been to the event in years past, the longtime pot smoker was expecting music, banners and a much bigger crowd.
He got to see one banner, a leaflet and a handful of speakers taking turns with a megaphone. Gathering to make a political statement about marijuana is "just not as big a deal to people" as it used to be - and that's okay, Branstow said, adding these days he feels safe walking down the street with a lit joint in his hand. Most participants seemed comfortable in the belief that legalization - or at least a relaxation of pot penalties - is on the way. "Legalize pot!" shouted someone from the crowd. "It is!" someone else bellowed back. A handful of city police officers could be seen monitoring the crowd from a distance, but no one witnessed any arrests. "If the cops come here, I'm not going to be afraid," said Shannon Kells, adding she's never heard of anyone getting violent, having an overdose or bankrupting their family over marijuana. "I find alcohol way worse than weed - it's advertised everywhere here." Event organizer Ken Kirk said he used to get hassled by cops while putting up posters to advertise Hempfest - but no more. "I think it's partly because of the changing attitudes," he told the crowd. "We're winning this war." Kirk has his own legal theory about why he's entitled to toke up: he believes Queen Elizabeth's oath of office - in which she swore to uphold the Bible - proves marijuana was never illegal because the Bible says all seed-bearing plants are "gifts from God." The crowd may have been "kind of small," but Hempfest was still exciting, he said. "These events are done for the morale of people who show up." The Marijuana Party of Alberta used Hempfest to gather signatures for a petition seeking official status as a provincial political party. They need 10,000 registered voters and currently have about 3,000, said Lyle Kenny, a member of the executive.  Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB) Author: Lori Coolican, Edmonton SunPublished:  Tuesday, September 2, 2003Copyright: 2003 Canoe Limited PartnershipContact: letters edm.sunpub.comWebsite: News Canadian Links -- Canada Archives
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