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STEVE ELLIOTT

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The world’s largest cannabis “protestival,” Seattle Hempfest, is calling for an end of marijuana’s designation as a  Schedule I drug under the federal Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

Only months after voters in Washington State legalized one ounce of marijuana for personal use, as many as 250,000 people are expected to attend Seattle’s Hempfest, the three-day, waterfront legalization rally at Myrtle Edwards Park, August 16-18. On Saturday, Hempfest attendees will participate in an Occupy Movement style call-and-response technique to send a mass message to President Obama that it is time for federal reform.

“Prohibition has been a catastrophic failure,” said Seattle Hempfest Executive Director Vivian McPeak. “If the purpose of prohibition is to prevent Americans from smoking pot it has been a complete waste of taxpayer dollars. A proven harm reduction approach is the only alternative to the scorched earth, Orwellian crusade the government has been waging against its own people for nearly a century.”

Now in its 22nd year, Hempfest features six stages of speakers and music, 400 arts, crafts, food and informational vendors, and a broad selection of some of the nation’s leading cannabis reform activists. In past years, Seattle’s mayor, the president of its city council, its city attorney, a former police chief, a state representative, a state senator, and U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich have spoken for reform from Hempfest’s main stage, which boasts huge pot leaves suspended high in the air.

Hempfest Gut Check Aims To Reduce Marijuana Use By Young People

“This year we are messaging to youth with eight specialized cards that address various aspects of harm reduction,” says McPeak. Called the Hempfest Gut Check, these free cards will offer health information based upon current accepted scientific evidence, addressing issues such as driving, dependency, and a variety of potential health effects associated with marijuana use.

“Young people should not smoke pot,” McPeak said. “They should wait until they have physically, mentally, and emotionally developed. The Gut Check is the beginning of an evolving project we have crafted to message young people from a source some youth may be more open to than traditional mainstream messengers. Now that reform is happening it is the responsible next step.”

I’ve not seen one of the Gut Check cards, but I sincerely hope they don’t resort to the scare tactics with which most of us dealt in our youth. Trying to scare kids away from marijuana just doesn’t work, especially since nearly all of the legitimate scientific studies on cannabis have highlighted the fact that it’s a relatively innocuous substance.

Elliott To Speak All Three Days

Toke Signals editor Steve Elliott at Seattle Hempfest 2011. Elliott will be speaking all three days at Hempfest 2013, once from each of the major stages (Seeley Stage, Main Stage, McWilliams Stage).
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Toke Signals editor Steve Elliott
at Seattle Hempfest 2011. Elliott will be speaking all three days at Hempfest 2013, once from each of the major stages (Seeley Stage, Main Stage, McWilliams Stage).

Toke Signals editor Steve Elliott (that’s me, folks) will speak at all three days of Seattle Hempfest 2013, once from each of the three major stages.

On Friday, August 16, I’m scheduled to speak from the Seeley Stage at 6:35 p.m. I will speak from Main Stage on Saturday, August 17, at 5:50 p.m., and from McWilliams Stage on Sunday, August 18, at 1:45 p.m.

Speaking to more than a hundred thousand people at once is a feeling like none other; the energy that bounces back and forth between speaker and crowd can be exhilarating. Besides, it’s the one chance a year I have to see (and to toke up with) many of my favorite people.

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you!

For a complete list of speakers and performers scheduled to appear at this year’s event, visit hempfest.org/festival/schedule/.

McPeak Says Costs Outstrip Donations

Vivian McPeak said that Hempfest attendee donations haven’t kept pace with the growing production costs associated with producing the massive event. “We are asking for a voluntary contribution of $10 per attendee for the weekend of revelry, reform, and responsibility,” McPeak said.

As a constitutionally protected free-speech event, Hempfest is free to attend. But attendees are encouraged, at the gate, to donate.

Vivian McPeak, Seattle Hempfest: "Quote"
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Vivian McPeak, Seattle Hempfest:
“We are counting on our community to kick down, and keep Hempfest alive”

“We are counting on our community to kick down, and keep Hempfest alive,” McPeak said, referring to the $800,000 he said it will cost to produce the event.

Seattle Hempfest hours are Friday, noon to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Attendee info can be found by clicking here.

Attendees are encouraged to use the new entrance at the Thomas Street Footbridge, found at 3rd Avenue West, between Harrison Street and W. Thomas Street.

Butane torches, such as those used for “doing dabs,” are not allowed in the park. Attendees are asked not to bring dogs. Pot sales are not allowed at Hempfest.

Business and residential neighbors should know about a new community impact report form found at hempfest.org/interact/seattle-hempfest-impact-survey/.

Those wishing to avoid the large crowds may stay home and watch Hempfest’s livestream found at hempfest.org/interact/live-streams/.

 

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