Hempfest Puts Marijuana Back on Front Burner
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Hempfest Puts Marijuana Back on Front Burner
Posted by CN Staff on August 15, 2009 at 05:28:47 PT
By Phillip Lucas, Seattle Times Staff Reporter
Source: Seattle Times 
Washington -- Seattle Hempfest, the annual two-day festival that's equal parts party and protest against marijuana laws, is set to take over three waterfront parks this weekend to highlight an issue some lawmakers are planning again to pursue in 2010.Bills were introduced in both chambers of the state Legislature in 2009 calling for possession charges for adults caught with less than 40 grams of marijuana — nearly 1.5 ounces — to be reclassified from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction. Instead of serving one-day mandatory minimum sentences in jail, offenders would be able to pay a $100 fine and not have to appear in court.
Legal penalties for users younger than 18 would still be those for a misdemeanor under the proposal.The bill cleared the state Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support, but the proposal never got a hearing in the state House of Representatives.Marijuana advocacy groups and some state legislators say politics may have kept the issue from moving forward last year."Many legislators have been concerned that their support would come back to haunt them in their re-election campaigns," said Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, one of the bill's original sponsors.Kohl-Welles and other legislators anticipate presenting the proposal again in 2010, saying voters likely are already in favor of marijuana-policy reform in Washington."The people are ahead of the politicians," said Rep. Brendan Williams, D-Olympia, who co-sponsored the House's version of the bill. "But, unfortunately, the politicians aren't even giving them the chance to talk about this issue."In Seattle, marijuana possession is a relatively low priority for the Police Department, but it can affect criminal charges if someone is arrested for another crime. In 2008, the City Attorney's Office filed 133 marijuana-possession charges against people who were initially arrested for other offenses.Being caught with 40 grams or less of marijuana can land users in jail for a mandatory one-day minimum sentence and bring a fine of between $250 to $500.Vivian McPeak, Seattle Hempfest's organizer, said punishing people with 40 grams or less doesn't affect dealers and has little effect on the number of people who use the drug overall."If someone has 40 grams of pot in one bag, they're probably a casual user," McPeak said.The possibility of decriminalizing possession doesn't sit well with addiction therapists and anti-drug organizations, who argue decriminalization could cause people to overlook harmful aspects of marijuana use, related risks of addiction and the possibility that the use of harder drugs could increase."There are more kids admitted into publicly funded chemical-dependence treatment programs in our state for marijuana than for alcohol or any other drug," said Deb Schnellman, communications director for the state Department of Social and Health Services' Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse. A 2006 youth survey showed 61 percent of Washington's high-school seniors think obtaining marijuana is easy. She said the same is likely true for adults.If the proposal became law, Schnellman said, the public perception of marijuana's harmful factors likely would drop and could exacerbate an already complicated problem."We don't have enough funding as it is to reach everyone with prevention programs and prevention tools."The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington worked with the Legislature in drafting the proposal and estimates if possession charges were reclassified to civil penalties, the state could save $16 million per year in court and defense costs and raise $1 million through $100 civil-infraction penalties.In Oakland, Calif., voters approved a proposition to impose a 1.8 percent tax on medicinal marijuana sold from authorized dispensaries to help offset an anticipated $83 million budget shortfall. The tax will be implemented in 2010 and could earn up to $400,000 for the city's municipal services.McPeak said pot decriminalization in Washington could be a first step toward creating a statewide revenue-generating marijuana policy similar to Oakland's."They can make a lot more money by taxing it than by fining people," McPeak said.Financial incentives aside, Schnellman said the possible effects of marijuana decriminalization on public health outweigh the possible benefits supporters use as bargaining chips. Schnellman said the money the state could save because of marijuana decriminalization might be diverted to funding more public addiction-treatment programs if pot possession were no longer a criminal offense.After years of marijuana and hemp advocacy, McPeak says he is still looking for the casualties of the drug's negative effects. He said decriminalizing marijuana use in Washington and using money generated from fines to fund addiction and education programs would be a better public service than the state's current marijuana policy."If the purpose of these laws is to stop people from smoking marijuana in our communities, they could not be a bigger failure," he said. "So we've got to do something else — something more cost-effective."Seattle Hempfest 2009Where: Myrtle Edwards Park, Elliott Bay Park and the Olympic Sculpture ParkWhen: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., today and SundayAdmission: Free, $10 suggested donationSource: Seattle Times (WA)Author: Phillip Lucas, Seattle Times Staff ReporterPublished: August 15, 2009Copyright: 2009 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on August 16, 2009 at 06:41:42 PT
More on The 40th Anniversary of Woodstock
Woodstock Anniversary Concert Delights Baby BoomersURL:
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on August 16, 2009 at 05:35:04 PT
What a Wonderful Woodstock Weekend It Has Been
At Woodstock Celebration Without The Old Superstars, Gray Is GroovyURL:
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on August 15, 2009 at 20:28:28 PT
I find that getting all upset when something that is really out of my control just isn't a good way to live. I think of George Bush and how upset he made me but I don't think I have slandered him. I believe when a President gets elected we should let him do what he said he would do when campaigning because that is why one wins over another. That is how I thought we were suppose to act in America. In my heart I always believed it was Chaney not Bush that was the one doing the bad things. I felt sorry for Bush and history will put it all in order in time. If we can let Obama get things done history will record if he will be right or wrong too. I would never want to be President or be involved in politics at all. 
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Comment #12 posted by Hope on August 15, 2009 at 20:07:07 PT
Peace isn't of much value to some people.
Apparently.Obviously.Peace among men. Imagine that.Peace and good will have little value among many so called "leaders" and "governors" and "authorities" and those minions of "warriors" and so many people in so many, many "High places".
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #11 posted by FoM on August 15, 2009 at 14:32:39 PT
I've watched the health care forums and some of the off the wall things said about issues surrounding Obama and I have no idea where to begin to make some people see. They don't live in the same space as me. 
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Comment #10 posted by rchandar on August 15, 2009 at 13:50:10 PT:
the way it operates down here, they don't even have to come up with new lies. the old ones are sufficient.--rchandar
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on August 15, 2009 at 13:38:08 PT
I wish I knew how to make some people and states understand.
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Comment #8 posted by EAH on August 15, 2009 at 13:38:03 PT:
Do the right thing.
This is excruciating! All this tiptoeing and dithering around, the utter bankruptcy of prohibition is plain as day yet all they can manage is tepid, faint hearted decriminalization. OMG since it's not a crime, then can't we just get right to reality based policy reform. The irony is the cannabis advocates are the clear headed ones, those in opposition are lost in a cloud of their delusions.
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on August 15, 2009 at 13:36:55 PT
OT: Woodstock Channel
We've had the Woodstock Channel on all day and it's nice. I hope others check it out.XM: Woodstock Channel - Deep Tracks, Channel 840
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Comment #6 posted by rchandar on August 15, 2009 at 12:44:07 PT:
Washington and Beyond
I admit that I look at a lot of these changes in MMJ and decrim with a valve of pure envy--simply stated, it ain't happenin' hyah, down in duh South-lands. I applaud the virtuosity and completeness of your efforts in your neck of the woods, and pray that someday after fundamentalism crashes and burns, dis hyah South will refawm da marawoona laws. Will try to keep the faith,rchandar
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on August 15, 2009 at 12:38:43 PT
Weed Making Inroads Among Retirees
By Tom BarlowAugust 15th 2009 Although California has a huge population of residents carrying prescriptions for medical marijuana, the social stigma attached to the drug has led the elderly to be very hesitant about adopting it as a palliative for age-related problems such as loss of appetite, nausea and chronic pain. Now a luxury retirement community in Orange County, Laguna Woods Village, whose residents have discovered pot's benefits, has made weed easier to obtain by establishing its own pot collective. URL:
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Comment #4 posted by mykeyb420 on August 15, 2009 at 09:27:11 PT
awesome video
here is what the kids do in school
ball catching
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Comment #3 posted by GeoChemist on August 15, 2009 at 08:59:41 PT
Yet another case for relegalization
"There are more kids admitted into publicly funded chemical-dependence treatment programs in our state for marijuana than for alcohol or any other drug," said Deb Schnellman, communications director for the state Department of Social and Health Services' Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse. A 2006 youth survey showed 61 percent of Washington's high-school seniors think obtaining marijuana is easy. She said the same is likely true for adults." The regulated toxin is harder to get than unregualted cannabis. And how is prohibition working again?
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on August 15, 2009 at 06:01:26 PT
"A very, very effective herb."
US CO: Prosperity in Prohibition 
Webpage: 13 Aug 2009Source: Boulder Weekly (CO)Prosperity in Prohibition How federal restrictions created Colorado’s medical marijuana industryby David AccomazzoRunning a successful, growing business makes Boulder’s Jill Leigh a busy woman. While talking to a reporter in her ashen-blue office one recent afternoon, an employee came in and handed her a thick stack of mail, saying there were two more boxes where that came from. Leigh opened a few envelopes as the interview continued. Later, two other employees entered her office seeking her expert opinion.“Jill, what do you think this is?” asked one employee, holding a fragrant fist-sized nugget of marijuana. The grower had named it as one strain, but the employees suspected otherwise.“I think [the grower] got a Haze clone that was mislabeled,” one of the men said. Leigh inspected it for a moment and then agreed. “I think it’s probably Haze,” she said. “Let’s bottle it as that and sell the product for $400.” The employees exited and Leigh turned. “I hate calling it product. I never know what to call it. I don’t like calling it medicine because it’s not Western medicine,” she said. She put her elbow on her desk and rested her chin in her hand. “It’s an herb. A very, very effective herb.”Leigh has two kids and an M.B.A. from Denver University. She also sells high quality marijuana for a living. Leigh and her husband own and operate Boulder County Caregivers, a medical marijuana dispensary on Valmont Road and 29th Street in Boulder. The dispensary is one of more than 40 such operations that have sprung up in Colorado during the past year, and more open each week, said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2000, when Amendment 20 passed with 53 percent of the vote, but for various reasons, only in the past year have dispensaries emerged from underground and started publicly advertising their wares. Any use of marijuana is a federal offense. Though the state says medical use of marijuana is legal, in this battle, federal law wins. The friction between federal and state law has created a booming industry in Colorado, with enterprising men and women stepping in to provide services physicians can’t. Doctors can’t prescribe marijuana, and pharmacies can’t stock it, so patients must either grow their own or purchase it elsewhere. Doctors can’t administer marijuana, so patients often depend on their primary caregiver for advice on how to use the herb. Many Colorado doctors fear federal reprisal for recommending marijuana, so specialized clinics dedicated to helping people become legal cardholders have opened their doors. Thanks to the Obama administration’s medically friendly statements, as well as a recent major victory in a critical rule-making hearing, dozens of businesses have sprung up in the past year alone to fill these needs. The rest of the state may be in a recession, but Colorado’s medical marijuana industry is thriving.No regulation from the state means that dispensaries can operate in pretty much any way they please. At first glance, the brightly lit waiting room in Boulder County Caregivers doesn’t stand out from any other medical waiting room. A friendly employee greets you as you enter. An aquarium bubbles quietly in the corner. Cushy chairs surround a coffee table filled with reading material. There are differences, too. The sweet, skunky smell of marijuana hits your nostrils as soon as you enter. The magazines feature glossy photos of different marijuana strands on the cover, and a tray of spice jars on the table offers samples of medical-grade with names like Bubbleberry, AK-47 and The Cough. Just past the aquarium next to Leigh’s office, a separate room houses a display case showcasing vaporizers, grinders and glass pipes presented in a fashion that, if not for the flavored marijuana fudge selling for $4 a square, wouldn’t look out of place at an average head shop. Behind the counter sit more than a dozen jars filled with different strands of marijuana, priced from $275 to $420 for an ounce. “If people don’t come here as a connoisseur,” Leigh said, “they leave here as one.” 
CONT.(coming soon to MAP)
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on August 15, 2009 at 05:30:42 PT
Have a Great Day!
I hope everyone really enjoys the Hempfest this year without fear and full of hope!
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