By George Rohrbacher, NORML Board Member, medical marijuana patient
WOW! The glorious Seattle waterfront at Myrtle Edwards Park was wearing its mid-August best! Saturday was broken clouds with sun in the high 70’s, Sunday, it was clear and 82. Sweeeet. Every tattoo, piercing and cleavage in the tri-state area that needed an airing, got one at Hempfest along the Emerald City waterfront this past weekend. Who knows how many hundreds of thousands hempsters were there? The park was packed beyond belief on Saturday. Over the night, the Hempfest staff changed the routing at over a dozen different foot-traffic choke points, so on Sunday, the crowd flowed so well it seemed the numbers were down…but, never fear, by 4:20 Sunday afternoon the 2-mile long city park was packed to capacity, like one huge happy sausage, all 5 stages rocking at once in a vast sea of people, all of whom who have assembled because they want to free a plant.
Yes We Cannabis.
As the potent Seattle Fog emanating from the Hempfest crowd slowly rolled out to sea each day to meet the stunning beauty of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains beyond, the scene made me proud to be an American. Good golly, Miss Molly, Hempfest really rocked last weekend!
Hempfest! America’s greatest all-volunteer event. It takes over a thousand volunteers to bring this wonderful beast to life each year. With love and devotion those volunteers blow life into this dream, just as they have every year for the past 18 years—some giving only a few hours of their time picking up trash after Hempfest is done, or some like the late Share Parker who a few years back mortgaged her home just to keep Hempfest going. Hempfest has grown and grown to the point that this year, even though the event was barely promoted, this was the biggest Hempfest, EVER.
HEMPFEST—the third weekend in August, on the Seattle waterfront, it’s fun, it’s free, it’s clean, it’s safe, no ticket required! Hempfest has become the goal of an annual summer migration of thousands and thousands of Americans. Seattle Hempfest has become an organic force like a salmon run….
So much to see and do at Hempfest—a few things that stood out to me this year:
*Hempfest expanded north of the Grain Elevators with great effect, adding about ¾ of a mile of new territory that was filled to the brim with hempsters. The Seely Memorial Stage’s new location created a great new venue for speakers and bands, a place you can get eye-to-eye contact with about 3-4,000 people, a very intimate experience compared with the Main stage’s audience of the ten’s of thousands.
*I listened to a Hemposium panel of marijuana activists that included Tonya Davis, a wheelchair-bound woman from Ohio.
As Tonya spoke of the horrible physical and sexual abuse she endured as a child, it brought me to tears. Tonya had been told to “Shut up” more often than she’d been called her own name, but now that she’d become a marijuana activist, Tonya refused to, “Shut up”, one minute longer. Such bravery, such heart. Thank you, Tonya.
*The medical research on cannabis continues to open new horizons. If you want to get seriously excited about the science behind why cannabis is so good for you, Google Dr. Bob Melamede, prof., Univ. of Colo, Colorado Springs.
*O’Shaughnessy’s The Journal of Cannabis in Clinical Practice, their Summer ‘09 issue is out! Get a copy! Perfect for any doctor wanting solid clinical information about the use of cannabis in their practice, or for the informed patient wanting to be more informed or get their doctor more informed about cannabis as a medicine. Editor Fred Gardner may be contacted to distribute or contribute to O’Shaughnessy’s.
And, of course, there was so much good music I don’t know where to begin.
Hempfest. Huge, happy, helpful, harmonic. You all made America proud of itself last weekend.
WHAT A YEAR FOR CANNABIS!!
YES WE CANNABIS!!
George Rohrbacher, NORML Board of Directors
Speech for Hempfest ‘09
What a year for cannabis, since we last talked here at Seattle Hempfest…Hempfest, the greatest all-volunteer event in America…also the largest pro-cannabis rally in the world, a protest-ival of grand proportions! Give a loud round of applause to the Hempfest volunteers; the people who truly make this happen! And, Help ‘em out, all of you need to volunteer and pick up a little trash on your way out of here tonight. And say, Why don’t you become an official Seattle Hempfest volunteer and earn one of those cool t-shirts!!? What a powerful thing that would be, 100,000 new cannabis volunteers!
And talking about numbers, last October, America arrested its 20-millionth person on marijuana charges! That’s 20-million people arrested for pot from Tricky Dick Nixon to today!! Sickening!!! Well, in November, We the People, by a big margin, elected ourselves a brand-new president, a President pledged for Change! The November elections also gave the people of Michigan medical marijuana by a 63% to 37%, a landslide vote! America’s very first tax and regulate cannabis bill was introduced in the California State Legislature.
New Years brought in the “Michael Phelps bong hit heard ‘round the world”…What???? The planet’s greatest athlete is using pot???? Oh my God!!!?? You mean, Michael Phelps, the Internet/tabloid pothead-posterboy? He didn’t become a couch-potato-slacker/loser like our government has been telling us was going to happen to all pot users. They’ve been telling us those lies for decades. With Michael Phelps, exactly the opposite happened, for the love of water, that ‘bong-hittin’ pothead-loser’ became the most decorated champion in the history of Olympic sports!! A Paradigm shift of monumental proportions is going on here! Maybe our government hasn’t been telling us the truth about POT, after all? What do you think?
February brought the great good news from Obama’s new Attorney General that President Obama’s campaign promises were now Federal policy, that the Federal Government would stop raiding marijuana dispensaries in states with laws that made medical pot legal. That means us…right here in Washington State…the Feds have called off their dope dogs from our medical marijuana!
In April, on 420, NORML launched America’s first ever TV pro-marijuana ad campaign…NORML’s TV ad message: “It’s time to legalize marijuana” played in millions of homes across America, and was mentioned in The New York Times front-page story on 4/20, the pot enthusiast’s organic holiday.
In June, Rhode Island’s state legislature over-rode their governor’s veto by a vote of 102-to-3, what a political Ass-Kicking…passing medical marijuana dispensary legislation.
California’s Board of Tax Equalization, mid-summer, released the findings that by their calculations, taxed and regulated, legal marijuana would bring California’s governments an estimated $1.4 BILLION dollars of NEW taxes every year…billions in tax revenue that are desperately needed to keep their neighborhood parks and libraries open. For years, NORML has been asking the government to tax us cannabis users like normal citizens…And, that of course, doesn’t take into account the $15 BILLION spent every year on marijuana prohibition enforcement, money that would be much better spent protecting battered women, finding lost children and solving crimes. The message about how expensive marijuana prohibition is, and the nasty ramifications of the War on Drugs is finally getting through to the American public for the very first time in our lifetimes!
Then…something unbelievably important happened a couple weeks ago: on July 23rd,for the first time in the history of their publication, The Wall Street Journal did a front-page article on the pot business! They said essentially: Now that the Federal raids have ended, medical cannabis is becoming a normal business. Woa, Nellie, bar the doors, when the WSJ says that there is “gold in them thar ills”, look out!!!
I want you to think about this for a second: about three weeks ago, the world’s premier economic newspaper declared that medical marijuana is: “OPEN FOR BUSINESS”. This story was read by millions and millions of the world’s biggest economic movers and shakers, everyone of whom are on the lookout for what is going to be the “next new thing”, and you can bet thousands and thousands of those well-heeled entrepreneurs have already started making their own cannabis business plans, potentially effecting the future of marijuana’s economic and legal landscape. The Wall Street Journal declared it loud and clear: the legal marijuana gold rush has begun! With this kind of attention, it won’t be long before there is a medical cannabis dispensary in your neighborhood shopping mall!! Now, that’s what I call progress!
It is your job and my job to keep up the pressure, to keep to keep this CHANGE rolling on.
Well, how are we going do it???
The Answer: Get loud, get active, JOIN NORML, volunteer! THANK YOU