I’m walking into Hempfest, and I’m not even high.
Imagine the most drug paraphernalia that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Now double it. And that’s just in the line to get in.
A far cry from the hot-boxed basements I’ve experienced in my life, Hempfest lets the loud get loud, and thousands of Seattleites pour through the gates into a hazy cloud of vendors which stretches on for what seems to be miles. Seattle’s local protestival does a superb job of supporting the 420-friendly community and aims to help businesses, public officials, and citizens work cooperatively to accomplish mutual goals.
Filled with stands selling forests of glass artistry, live music, kush-based clothing, shaved ice, and my personal favorite, a deep fried chicken sandwich with a donut on it, the vibes are all happy-go-lucky. Inside the tents, people are exploring the selection of mile-high bongs, clapping at symposiums on the benefits of medicinal marijuana, and rocking a variety of Bob-Marley t-shirts.
However, as someone not partaking in the festivities, I’m a bit skeptical. I don’t particularly identify with the dreadlock culture in front of me, and in between bites of my donut sammie, I’m curious as to how all of this fits into the recently passed legalization laws.
For one, I know you’re not allowed to smoke in public. Strike one. For two, I know you’ve got to be 21 to use. Strike two. For three, I know black market vending is prohibited. Strike three. But are we out?
I don’t mean to sound like a hater or a snitch – they get stitches FYI. I mean hell, I’ve even smoked a bit of the herb in my day. Contrary to popular belief, I did have friends in high school. I digress. Point is, the amount of weed, blunts, bongs, vaporizers, edibles, bowls, and other alternatives that I didn’t even recognize could only be categorized as absolute reefer madness (to turn a phrase on its head). Alaskan Way turned into an incredibly stoned, quiet riot.
And notably, nobody’s getting hurt, killed, or cracked out. Much the opposite, people are laughing, dancing, playing Frisbee, and handing out “flowers.” As the saying goes, sharing is caring, and from the looks of it, people care a lot.
So where does all of that leave us? Overall, the herb is helping. Seattle seems to truly be the progressive city it prides itself on being. Maybe we’ve still got a few obstacles to hop over, ways we can better ourselves and the way in which we buy, sell, and use our drugs, but for the time being life is pretty chill. Don’t like it? Well, like, that’s just your opinion man.
I’m walking out of Hempfest, and I’m pretty sure I’m high.
*PUBLISHED ON THE SEATTLE WEEKLY WEBSITE*