Hempfest Turns Sweet 16

Hempfest Turns Sweet 16
Posted by CN Staff on August 19, 2007 at 09:02:29 PT
By Kyung M. Song, Seattle Times Health Reporter
Source: Seattle Times
Seattle, WA -- Hempfest celebrates all things cannabis, but that didn't stop strollers and toddlers Saturday from outnumbering aging hippies.In fact, the marijuana "protestival" that began 16 years ago in Seattle has acquired a patina of convention, with vendors peddling organic doughnuts and fretting about an influx of cheaper water pipes ("Don't call it a bong") from China and India.
That's not to equate Hempfest with, say, Bumbershoot.Probably nowhere else in Seattle could festivalgoers festoon themselves with $3 fake marijuana leis or inhale the aroma of chicken gyro mingled with pot smoke. And reporters likely won't find anywhere else so many outspoken people who decline to give their names ("You never know what kind of list you might end up on").But to some who thronged to Seattle's waterfront Myrtle Edwards Park, Hempfest, which continues today, is a veritable family affair. Organizers expect 150,000 visitors during the free two-day event.Christine Jordan, 24, of Des Moines, was towing her two sons, ages 3 and 4. Jordan said the boys will inevitably encounter pot as they grow older, though they don't have any inkling about it now."There are plenty of reasons why marijuana should not be illegal," she said, adding that she plans to eventually talk to her sons about marijuana "and let them form their own opinion."Dean Phillips, of Centralia, said he has brought his daughter, now 8, to previous Hempfests.Use of marijuana as medicine has been legal in Washington since 1998. Like many Hempfest attendees, Phillips favors decriminalizing pot entirely."I don't think it's a gateway drug," he said. Current laws "say I don't have the right to put it in my body. This is a free country."The United States also outlaws commercial cultivation of the hemp plant, cannabis sativa, which yields both marijuana and the non-hallucinogenic hemp used for fiber and food. Importing industrial hemp is legal.Clothing, bags and other items made with hemp have gained wide acceptance (even Nordstrom carries some) as consumers learn more about the plant's ecological benefits, said Annette Kleckner, a co-owner of Hempmania on Bainbridge Island.Hemp is fast-growing and, unlike cotton, doesn't require pesticides, said Kleckner, whose company sells hemp travel bags, backpacks and even lip balm. Hemp fiber can be blended with other materials to produce textiles that range from silky to rugged.A few doors away from Hempmania's tent, a water-pipe vendor said his business isn't so hot.China has cornered the market for borosilicate, the heat-resistant glass raw material, the Portland man said as he tended to occasional customers buying pot paraphernalia. At the same time, China and India are producing good water pipes, the fanciest of which sell for hundreds of dollars or more, the man said, declining to give his name.Sounding a familiar lament of more conventional retailers, he said his business has fallen by a quarter over the past several years "because of increase in product availability."Note: "B.C. bud" may have a new cousin: "King County bud."Source: Seattle Times (WA)Author:  Kyung M. Song, Seattle Times Health ReporterPublished: Sunday, August 19, 2007 Copyright: 2007 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Seattle Hempfest Travel Writer Rick Steves To Speak for Hemp There's Smoke, There's Hempfest 
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