For three days in August, hundreds of thousands of people will descend on Myrtle Edwards and Centennial Parks on Seattle’s waterfront for the 23rd annual Hempfest, traditionally the largest annual gathering of pro-cannabis supporters in the world. This year, 2014, the first legal cannabis stores opened in Washington State, making this another hallmark year in the journey to re-legalizing hemp nation-wide.
What started out as a “humble gathering of stoners” in 1991, conceived during a peace vigil in opposition of the first Gulf War and attracting a crowd of about 500 people, has grown to a world-renowned 3 day “protestival” celebrating human rights, equality, freedom, and of course, cannabis.
Spanning 1.3 miles, two public parks, six stages, and more than 300 vendors and being staffed by over 1,000 volunteers, Hempfest isn’t just the largest annual pro-pot rally in the world — it is also one of the largest special events in the State of Washington. Past performers have included well known bands such as Potluck, the Kottonmouth Kings, Fishbone, Rehab, and countless others, with notable speakers including Jack Herer, Woody Harrelson, Rick Steves, and many local and national political figures and marijuana reform activists addressing the crowds.
Hundreds of arts, crafts, and political vendors stretch the expanse of both parks, and the event features a “Hemposium” replete with panel discussions and presentations, displays, and workshops.
Munchies, of course, are available from a wide variety of food vendors, but don’t expect to find any cannabis for sale; despite Washington’s relaxed marijuana laws, it is an enhanced felony to sell cannabis, cannabis food, or other drugs in a city park, with all penalties — including fines and jail time — doubled.
Because Hempfest is a free speech event in a public park, the passage of Initiative 502 will not change the event’s entrance policy to be 21+. Hempfest remains open to all ages, but organizers remind minors wishing to attend the event to discuss the matter with a parent or guardian.
In addition, Hempfest organizers would like to remind the cannabis community of the following:
Alcohol, narcotics and weapons are strictly prohibited
Dogs, with the exception of working service animals, are not allowed
Unauthorized vending is prohibited
Cannabis sales of any kind, including edible treats or medical marijuana sales, are not only prohibited at the event, but they also remain an enhanced felony in the park
No fireworks, spray paint, or handheld torches are allowed in the park
Genital nudity is prohibited at Hempfest
Overnight camping is prohibited at Hempfest, but there are several campgrounds within a short drive of Downtown Seattle
Bicycle riders must dismount and walk their bikes at all times for public safety
Please help keep the parks clean, put your trash in the trash bins