Newsbrief: Seattle Hempfest Endorses Kerry 8/27/04

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Organizers of the Seattle Hempfest (, the country's largest annual pro-marijuana event, broke with tradition by calling on pot people to help elect Democratic Sen. John Kerry president in November. Before this year, the Hempfest had held to a scrupulously nonpartisan position.

photo courtesy Hempfest
But this year, as more than 150,000 people gathered in Seattle's waterfront Myrtle Edwards Park to hear bands, check out the multitudinous array of glass pipes, and smoke the substance being honored, they heard an explicitly anti-George Bush message. On its web site, Hempfest notes that this "proves to be a pivotal year in American politics as the nation chooses whether to stay with the disastrous policies of the Bush administration, or bring in someone with a greater ability to understand our message... that we are Americans seeking freedom, not a criminal underclass threatening society."

It was a message elaborated on by Hempfest spokesman Dominic Holden to the Boston Globe before the festival began last week. The marijuana vote is powerful, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, Holden said, and even getting a few thousand people registered could make the difference in a tight election. "It is essential for our crowd to understand that there is nothing more important they can do for drug policy reform than to go out and cast their ballots in the Democratic box in November," said Holden.

The Bush administration's aggressive anti-medical marijuana prosecutions prompted the Hempfest to break with tradition, Holden said. "When you look at what's happening on the front lines of the drug war under the Bush administration, the federal government has waged war against sick and dying people who use medical marijuana and those compassionate enough to help them," Holden said. "We need to unite and get George Bush out of office. We need to vote for John Kerry."

Leading drug reformers contacted by the Globe, including Hempfest speakers Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (, and Keith Stroup, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (, were also critical of Bush, but worried about relying overly on the Democrats to push for drug reform. "When it comes to the drug war, the Bush administration is a disaster," said Nadelmann, but while Kerry seems more sympathetic on some issues, "we know going in he will disappoint us," Nadelmann said.

"All of us recognize that there is no question that marijuana reform policies would be better served with someone else in office other than George Bush," said Stroup, but he added that marijuana reform should not be seen as a partisan issue. "It would be a terrible mistake to let the [marijuana reform] issue be perceived as a Democratic issue," he said.

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Issue #351, 8/27/04 Editorial: Prohibition Itself Must Go | Timely Intervention Helps Block Student Drug Testing: The Case of Oregon's Lebanon Community School District | Arkansas Medical Marijuana Initiative Hands in More Signatures, Drive to Make Ballot Still Alive | Two Web Sites Now Online Are Naming Names and Seeking Info on Narcs and Snitches | Newsbrief: No Criminal Charges Against Cops in Goose Creek High School Raid | Newsbrief: Baltimore Needle Exchange Hailed on Tenth Anniversary | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: Virginia Judge Jails Woman for Taking Prescription Methadone | Newsbrief: Minneapolis City Council Rejects Medical Marijuana Initiative | Newsbrief: Seattle Hempfest Endorses Kerry | Newsbrief: DPA Reaches Out to GOP Conventioneers | Newsbrief: Hip-Hop Summit Action Network Pulls Out of NYC GOP Anti-Drug War March, Broader Event Will Go On Instead | Online Petition on Marc Emery and Canadian Marijuana Law Reform | Keith Cylar Activist Fund | Media Scan: Kunstler Rockefeller Video, Counterpunch | This Week in History | The Reformer's Calendar

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