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June 30, 2010

Seattle Hempfest Executive Director Vivian McP...
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by Cole Cosgrove, (Source:Bellingham Herald)
Wright Park: Many Uses of Marijuana Promoted, but One Use Stands Out

Small bags of snacks labeled “Munchies” sat on a table.  Behind them, T-shirts carried the slogan “Tokecoma.”

James Smith, 41, of University Place, said he wasn’t high when he thought of that wordplay.  But Tacoma’s first Hempfest on Saturday at Wright Park seemed like the perfect place to sell the shirts. 

Besides, each shirt included one free rolling paper

Along with the event’s music and food, vendors sold colorful glass pipes, water bongs and hookahs – all for tobacco, of course, which makes them legal. 

Hempfest volunteers walked around and reminded visitors that smoking anything in Tacoma parks is against the law, subject to a $75 fine.  Just about everyone seemed to be complying. 

At one booth, smoked salmon was for sale. 

“Dude, the police are here; don’t smoke the salmon,” Steve Phun of Seattle said. 

“It’s hard to keep lit,” an officer deadpanned as he walked past. 

For the record, the salmon was smoked with cherry wood, alder and “a little bit of leaf in there,” said the vendor, who declined to be identified.  “It is Hempfest, after all.”

Organizers say the event is meant to spread information and raise awareness about the many uses of marijuana – economic, industrial and medicinal. 

“The whole point of Hempfest is that it’s a free event with music and fun to attract a lot of people,” said Phun, 38, who was gathering signatures for Initiative 1068, which would put the legalization of marijuana for use by adults on the November ballot.  “Then we can get the message out.”

Under Washington law, people with certain “debilitating or terminal illnesses” can, with a doctor’s approval, possess a limited amount of marijuana for medical use.  Authorized patients can tend to their own plants, though there is no legal source of seeds or seedlings.  In addition, someone can grow and provide marijuana for one person at any one time.  Buying and selling marijuana is illegal. 

Alto Powell, 20, of Tacoma handed out information at a booth for Greener Gardens, a Tacoma resource center on Sixth Avenue for medical marijuana

“We make it easier for people to get educated, to help them out,” he said. 

“We have a doctor in the facility that checks out the patient, looks over their medical records, then she either authorizes or declines them” for a medical-marijuana card, said Powell, who was approved a few weeks ago through Greener Gardens.  He said he has back problems and sickle-cell trait. 

He said he wasn’t aware that anyone has been declined. 

The center also teaches a 10-week class on how people can grow their own marijuana. 

“After you grow it, you get to keep it,” he said.  “It’s like you’re in school all over again – like a science project.”

Nearby at the Wright Park pond, Chris Hobson wore a tuxedo and his wife-to-be, Jacqui, wore a white wedding gown and veil as a wedding photographer snapped pictures. 

“Dude, you’re getting married at Hempfest!” one passer-by yelled to them. 

Not really.  They were getting married later Saturday at St.  Leo Church, but when they scheduled the pictures, they didn’t realize Hempfest was the same day. 

They took it all in stride. 

“Hmm, what’s that smell?” Chris Hobson joked. 

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  1. Southern California Norml

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