“Hempfest,” Washington state’s annual marijuana festival, will be making some changes this year, now that recreational use of the drug is legal there, according to the Associated Press.
Up to 85,000 participants are expected to attend the three-day event in Seattle, which began 22 years ago. Participants smoke marijuana and listen to speakers and music, the article notes. This year, speakers will talk about reform of federal marijuana laws.
Seattle police, who in past years wrote tickets and made arrests, will be handing out Doritos. The bags of snacks will have labels directing people to the Seattle Police Department website post, “Marijwhatnow? A Guide to Legal Marijuana Use In Seattle.” The guide explains adults can possess up to an ounce of marijuana but cannot sell it or give it away. It also states that driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal, as is public use of the drug.
“It’s going to be the most interesting Hempfest we’ve ever had because it’s going to be part victory celebration,” said the festival’s Executive Director Vivian McPeak. “That said, we feel it’s very important to remind everyone that as long as it’s still a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act, it’s not legal anywhere. The job’s not done yet.”
Festival organizers will be handing out cards reminding people that while marijuana can be safely used by many people, it can cause short-term memory loss and dependence, and can affect a person’s ability to drive. “We hope people will take it more seriously coming from us than from a traditional messenger,” McPeak said.
Seattle Police Department spokesman Sergeant Sean Whitcomb said although police won’t be ticketing people for smoking in public, officers will continue to ensure public safety, and will be on the lookout for intoxicated drivers leaving the festival.