I’m on my way down to Hempfest right now. I will update this post as the day goes on.
10:20am – At McDonalds on 5th. Very easy to tell who’s going to Hempfest and who will be Riding the Ducks.
10:39am – Another gigantic line to get in. Man with giant balloons just walked through the credentialed entranced telling the line to smoke pot for Jesus. People do.
11:12am – First panel is under way. Attorneys from up and down the West Coast.
11:14am – Local attorney Jeffrey Steinborn notes that City Council candidate Rusty Williams has come out strongly in support of legalization. I wish I knew that before I mailed in my ballot.
11:30am – Portland attorney Leland Berger mentions how it will become very necessary for states to allow medical marijuana use for those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD. This has already been done in Israel, where some IDF vets with PTSD are allowed to use medical marijuana.
11:42am – A question was asked about why the state law declaring marijuana a medicine doesn’t give an opening for getting marijuana rescheduled (it’s currently Schedule I – no medical value). According to Douglas Hiatt, the first state that may pull it off is…Iowa, where medical marijuana isn’t legal yet. Odd.
11:56am – The first panel wrapped up. One thing that I’m hearing a lot is the disappointment with Drug Czar Kerlikowske, even from people who generally work within the “system” so to speak (attorneys, politicians, etc).
A number of these folks know that Gil understands damn well that marijuana is an effective medicine and that marijuana law enforcement shouldn’t be a priority. They’ve worked with him in the past on these issues and are disheartened by the extent that they’ve seen him do a complete 180.
12:02pm – I think I’ll skip the next panel to do the mandatory walkabout down to the other end of the park.
12:45pm – Back in the Hemposium tent. When you walk around this event, and see the tens of thousands of people enjoying themselves, you wonder why this mass of people doesn’t equate to political progress. Then, you run into a woman getting people to sign a petition to legalize hemp farming in Congress and she tells me how few people know who their Congressman is. That’s why.
12:49pm – Panel on medical marijuana (with a number of doctors) is beginning – good to see the “Dr.” in front of Sunil Aggarwal’s name. Congrats!
1:10pm – Dr. Robert Melamede from Colorado discussed some scientific endeavors involving the relationship between cannabinoids, open-mindedness, and political inclination. Interesting stuff.
1:40pm – As always, the SPD officers here are very professional and courteous. It’s always a trip to see young women with marijuana bead necklaces petting an SPD police horse. The next panel – with medical marijuana patients – is under way.
1:54pm – Our state’s medical marijuana laws are still a mess, and hearing from the patients brings that home. They still have to deal with some shady characters to obtain their medicine – and they end up having to pay too much as well.
2:13pm – Sativex, a cannabinoid spray from British pharmaceutical company GW, is working well for patients with multiple sclerosis in the UK. Sadly, it’s still far too expensive for patients in the US. Socialized medicine – 1, US health care – 0.
2:22pm – The panel I’ve been most looking forward to is about to begin. Roger Goodman, Rob Kampia, Alison Holcomb, and Allen St. Pierre.
2:29pm – Looks like Kampia and St. Pierre are not here. Instead, Ben Livingston from the Cannabis Defense Coalition and David Frankel have replaced them.
2:36pm – Dale Geiringer from California NORML has also joined the panel. Roger Goodman just gave a shout-out to his opponent in his 2008 house race – Toby Nixon, who is sitting to my right.
3:02pm – Alison Holcomb just provided a very good rationale for getting the decrim bill pushed through the state legislature before working on a full legalization bill. I also think that we need to target the politicians (like Chris Hurst) who work to kill the bill and make it clear that there’s a political price to pay from being on the wrong side of the issue.
3:24pm – I’m about to head out here. It sounds like the case from this week in Grant County could be the next battle ground over medical marijuana in this state. Stay tuned.
3:43pm – A man is passed out in the bushes near the south entrance to the park. SPD officers checking it out. For a beer festival, that’s pretty normal. For Hempfest, a curiosity.