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Marijuana: Seattle Hempfest Sues City, Art Museum Over Permitting, Access

Who would have thought the organizers of the Seattle Hempfest, the world's largest marijuana law reform rally, would have to take legal action against the progressive city of Seattle and one of its art museums? But that's exactly what happened Monday, when Hempfest announced it was suing the city over its failure to process the permit application in a timely manner and its failure to address transportation and access issues caused by construction at Seattle Art Museum.
2005 Hempfest
The Hempfest takes place each year at Myrtle Edwards Park, a narrow strip of land adjoining Puget Sound just north of downtown Seattle. Access to the park is limited, and the Seattle Art Museum's ongoing construction at its Olympic Sculpture Park leaves only a 14-foot-wide point of access for the estimated 150,000 people that will attend over Hempfest's two-day run.

Hempfest organizers say they are running out of time and cannot wait any longer for permits and resolution of the access issue. The permit application for the event was filed on January 3, and the city should have replied within 60 days, but has yet to do so. Nor has it arrived at a transportation plan that addresses the crucial access issue.

"Since the late fall of 2005, Hempfest has been meeting regularly with Seattle Art Museum (SAM) and city officials to resolve all issues and allow adequate space for pedestrian access, as well as access for police and fire officials. Public safety is a top priority for Hempfest," organizers said in a press release announcing the lawsuit. "Construction of the Olympic Sculpture Park is in risk of jeopardizing public safety and depriving the public use of a major park," said Vivian McPeak, Executive Director of the Seattle Hempfest and plaintiff. "After months of negotiations with the City and SAM, I am confident that there is room for both the Sculpture Park and Hempfest," he added.

Organizers were quick to clarify that Hempfest will take place. Period. This year's event, set for August 19 and 20, features dozens of musical acts and speakers. This year's line up includes former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper and Seattle City Council President Nick Licata (not to mention DRCNet associate director David Guard). Hundreds of exhibitors will sell hemp wares and dozens of organizations, including the ACLU and NORML and DRCNet, will recruit for their organizations and advocate an end to the drug war.

MPP Seeks Help Gathering Signatures in Missoula--they need 11,000 in three weeks

Here's the text of the email they sent out today: Help urgently needed to put marijuana initiative on Missoula County ballot Marijuana Policy Project grant recipient Citizens for Responsible Crime Policy (CRCP) only has three weeks remaining to collect signatures for an initiative that would urge Missoula County law enforcement officers to make adult marijuana offenses the county’s lowest law enforcement priority, and they still need 11,000 more signatures! If they don’t get your help collecting signatures, Missoula County residents may not have a chance to vote on the initiative in November. And Missoula law enforcement officers will continue arresting and prosecuting adult marijuana users. There was an arrest for marijuana-related offenses in Missoula every 33 hours last year. The government will continue wasting its time and your tax dollars pursuing non-violent adult marijuana users, unless you get involved now! There are several ways that you can help CRCP. 1) Sign up to be a petitioner. You can earn $1.00 per valid signature that you collect from now until August 24. You will be able to work with other CRCP petitioners and have the opportunity to meet people working to improve Montana’s marijuana laws. All you have to do is stop by the CRCP office in Missoula at Higgins Plaza, 415 North Higgins, #13, to get the necessary materials. You can also contact CRCP at [email protected] or (406) 721-3000, ext. 1420, to find out more information about becoming a petitioner. 2) Petition at the Western Montana Fair. CRCP will have a booth at the Western Montana Fair in Missoula from 11:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. everyday from Tuesday, August 8 through Sunday, August 13. By working at the booth, you get free admission to the fair and $1.00 per valid signature you collect! If you want to help out at the fair, please contact CRCP at [email protected] or (406) 721-3000, ext. 1420. 3) Encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to get involved as well. CRCP needs help from anyone who is able to help during the next three weeks. You don’t even need to be from Missoula. So, if you know anyone who wants to reform our marijuana laws, please let them know that CRCP needs them. This is your chance to be a part of major marijuana reform. Getting this initiative on the ballot in Missoula will be the first step to rethinking marijuana prohibition throughout the state. Let’s give Missoula County voters the opportunity to say no to the war on marijuana users! Please contact CRCP to get involved today. This alert is Paid for by Citizens for Responsible Crime Policy, Treasurer Paul Befumo, P.O. Box 8022, Missoula, MT 59807.
United States

Mother Nature Implicated in Massive Marijuana Grow-Op

Your tax dollars at work:

From the The Norman Transcript
A call from a concerned farmer in southeast Norman led Cleveland County Sheriff's Department deputies and Norman police officers to a field of 8,889 "wild" marijuana plants growing on private property early Monday morning. The plants ranged in size from 3 feet to 9 feet tall and would have a street value of up to $1,000 each, or around $8 million total, if allowed to grow and be harvested in the coming months, said Captain Doug Blaine, of the Cleveland County Sheriff's Department.

Now I’m not surprised about the plants. Feral hemp, also known as ditchweed, is indigenous to the region. The shocker here is that these officers, in a fit of unbelievable idiocy, actually attempted to place a street value on it. Ditchweed doesn’t get you high! It’s as worthless as the dirt it was yanked from.

And so it appears we may have stumbled upon the most absurd over-estimation of a marijuana crop’s value in the whole stupid history of bored police officers over-estimating the value of marijuana crops.

But you can’t fault the “concerned farmer” who called it in. With Captain Doug Blaine calling the shots, I’d kill every plant in my yard just to be on the safe side.

Yet despite its abundance of ill-informed sensationalism, this article ironically fails to mention the real danger posed by the feral hemp plant. Any commercial marijuana growing in proximity to such a sizable crop of ditchweed stands a strong chance of becoming pollinated by its impotent cousin. The result would be hybridized marijuana of extremely poor quality.

Thankfully, marijuana enthusiasts and bored Oklahoma police can agree on one thing: the ditchweed’s gotta go.

United States

Wild Weed Whacked

United States
The Norman Transcript

Seattle Hempfest Sues City and Art Museum

NEWS RELEASE July 31, 2006 Contact: Dominic Holden ­ (206) 877-2240 Vivian McPeak ­ (206) 295-7258 Event backers file suit against City; Seattle Art Museum, Olympic Sculpture Park named Permit application unprocessed, sculpture park construction plans violate law, organizers say SEATTLE ­ The Seattle Hempfest is filing suit Monday in King County Superior Court against City officials Ken Bounds, the Parks Department Superintendent, and Virginia Swanson, the Special Events Committee Chair, to compel the officials to create safe access to Myrtle Edwards Park and issue a Special Event Permit in time for the August 2006 event. The permit application, filed on January 3, 2006, was supposed to have been acted upon within 60 days pursuant to City Ordinance (SMC 15.52.060). Gary Keese of the Law Department and Virginia Swanson assured Hempfest that the permit would be issued, but they have failed to do so. The City still has not determined the transportation plan and other conditions associated with the permit. Hempfest organizers say that they are running out of time and cannot wait any longer for the City to process the permit application. The problems stem from the Seattle Art Museum's (SAM's) Olympic Sculpture Park (OSP) construction project which restricts the approach to Myrtle Edwards Park from Alaska Way and Broad St. Portions of the entry path are only 14 feet wide and other parts remain unfinished. OSP officials have refused to negotiate a traffic plan for deliveries through the construction area, and the entrance to the park is too narrow to safely accommodate the large volume of event participants, organizers say. The City ordinance, which specifically names the Fourth of Jul-Ivar's and Hempfest, that granted SAM the privilege of building the Olympic Sculpture Park on City property also requires SAM to "ensure safe public access over the Boulevard to 'Special Events' (Seattle Municipal Ordinance #121974 and #122141)." Since the late fall of 2005, Hempfest has been meeting regularly with Seattle Art Museum and City officials to resolve all issues and allow adequate space for pedestrian access, as well as access for police and fire officials. Public safety is a top priority for Hempfest. The annual political festival features dozens of musical acts and speakers. This year's line up includes former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper and Seattle City Council President Nick Licata. Hundreds of exhibitors will sell hemp wares and dozens of organizations, including the ACLU and NORML, will advocate an end to the Drug War. The event has occurred annually in Seattle's parks every August and it has become a cherished part of Seattle's summer festival heritage. Hempfest is the largest marijuana law reform rally in the US and is expected to draw over 150,000 attendees over the weekend of Saturday, August 19 and Sunday, August 20. "Construction of the Olympic Sculpture Park is in risk of jeopardizing public safety and depriving the public use of a major park," said Vivian McPeak, Executive Director of the Seattle Hempfest and plaintiff. "After months of negotiations with the City and SAM, I am confident that there is room for both the Sculpture Park and Hempfest," he added. However, there have been other problems caused by the construction of OSP. In March of 2006, an OSP construction crane fell onto the adjacent railroad tracks, delaying construction and disrupting railroad service. This was the first year the Fourth of Jul-Ivar's celebration did not include any sponsored events at Myrtle Edwards Park. Late in 2005, spokespeople for Ivar's, hosts of the annual Fourth of July festival, announced that their event was permanently cancelled. The Seattle Post Intelligencer reported, "…it's become increasingly difficult to provide parking for the event staff and emergency, fire and police crews. And the temporary closure of the trolley along Alaskan Way will further constrict transportation to and around the event." "Those were the straws that broke the camel's back," Ivar's President Bob Donegan told the PI referring to the end of festival in the park, but Ivar's kept the fireworks display. In turn, the City had to foot a bill for thousands of fireworks revelers, who needed security, police and fire department officials, toilets, trash cans and other festival necessities ­ costing taxpayers tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Seattle Hempfest is a free speech and cultural event that has safely and successfully provided a forum for advocates of marijuana law reform since 1991. "Hempfest will not allow its First Amendment rights to be so limited," said Hempfest attorney Fred Diamondstone. If the lawsuit's filers win, the City must require the SAM to provide safe access to the park immediately before, during and after Hempfest. The region has shown favor to marijuana law reform by passing Seattle enforcement de-prioritization Initiative 75 in 2003 and approving statewide medical marijuana Initiative 692 in 1998. Seattle is recognized throughout the country as a marijuana-friendly city. ### The Seattle Hempfest advocates that marijuana be regulated like alcohol, adults who responsibly use marijuana not be treated as criminals, and non-violent drug offenders be given treatment rather than incarcerated.
Seattle, WA
United States

Belgian "Draw Up Your Plant" Campaign for Cannabis Regulation

“The Flemish Institute for Alcohol and Drugs Questions” and our cannabis association “Draw Up Your Plant” agree on a specific problem: Belgian cannabis law is creating legal insecurity for Civil society. Draw Up Your Plant organized a very successful press moment on Thursday Juli 27. “The mother plant, seeds and clones” were the subject of our action this time. We showed the planting of the seed to grow a mother plant that'll provide clones for the Draw Up Your Plant plantation. ATV-News (Dutch): Foto report by Jos van Cannaclopedia: Antwerpen Apart (Dutch): Het Nieuwsblad (Dutch): Oradio website (Dutch) : I've put it all on my cannapage: Draw Up Your Plant isn't the only organization who finds that Belgian cannabis law creates legal insecurity for Belgian Civil society. VAD/De Druglijn (a tele-service for people with questions about drugs) released a press article on Juli 13 last month. They describe the problems with Belgian cannabis law: (Tom Evenepoel (VAD / De Druglijn) about the content of questions asked to De Druglijn) “Legislation is taken into consideration in 15% of the questions. This is even a higher percentage as with the federal drug note in 2001. Moreover, the questions continually get more specific. It no longer concerns the general question if cannabis now can be smoked or not, but about what is allowed in certain specific situation or not, and what the eventual sanction can be. We do what we can, but often it is a great challenge and sometimes even impossible to give answers to the questions about legislation..” Full article (Dutch): According to the ministerial directive of January 2005 one can possess 3 grammes of canabis and one harvested cannabis plant. Draw Up Your Plant offers cannabis consumers a protocol enabling them to attain cannabis without trade. Each member of the organization can grow it's plant in a common plantation according to strict, yet simple rules. One man/woman one plant. Each plant in the plantation will contain a label with it's owners name on it. There are 2 ways in witch the situation for Draw Up Your Plant can evolve now: or we get a political solution, or we get a judicial solution. We don't expect our political policy makers will come up with a legislative initiative because that would be an acknowledgement of debt for bad governance earlier in this period of government. Draw Up Your Plant is in favor of a political solution, but we expect to be challenged by criminal law and fight our fight in court. We need 1500 euro if we go to court. We try to gather this money by asking a 50 euro memberships fee to people who want to become a member of our association. So we need 30 members to start with. We're doing the Draw Up Your Plant campaign since januari of this year. We did a monthly press release and so now and then an event (like the one last week). We where in newspapers, magazines, on radio and television and websites. We now have several hundreds of supporters from all over the country. But we only have 24 members until now. Manny of our supporters are concerned mainly about the fact if they're gonna have a harvest-ready plant for the 50 euro they've paid. People often only think short term (My weed!!!) and one cannot understand that you have to arrange this legal business first before you can do your grow in relaxed surroundings. We try to get our association Draw Up Your Plant regulated. If we succeed then we can get thousands of cannabis associations in all kind of forms and celebrate the end of cannabis prohibition. This is really possible just because of this unclear, unworkable cannabis law. In the first place there is the fact that at present nobody can explain how cannabis laws are to be interpreted. Secondly, Judges suffer under this problem (how should they rule?) and maybe want to send a signal to the legislators responsible for this and let us go. (cheer) :jh (cheer) Stijn Goossens Philippe De Craene Joep Oomen TREKT UW PLANT (vzw i.o) STAD/ENCOD/VOLVOX Lange Lozanastraat 14 2018 Antwerpen Tel. 03 237 7436 GSM: 0479 982271 / 0486 499 453 E-mail:[email protected] / [email protected] Website: / / HaRdCOREhARMREdUCER BreaklinePeerSupport InternationalDrugUserActivists TrektUwPlant!!!

Canadian "Up in Smoke Cafe" Raided, Probably Closed for Good

Hamilton, ON
Cannabis Culture

Prickly Progressives Impede Pot Progress

Progress Now, a Colorado-based advocacy group issued a statement condemning Focus on the Family President James Dobson for using a signature gathering service that has also worked with the marijuana reform group SAFER.

James Dobson is spending tens of thousands of dollars of Focus on the Family's money to hire paid signature collectors to solicit people for the so-called "marriage initiative" under the guise of protecting Colorado's families. He needs 68,000 valid signatures by August 8 to qualify. Many of these very solicitors paid for by Dobson also are working to collect signatures for an initiative to legalize marijuana in Colorado simultaneously.

For starters, they’re just signature gathers. They’re professionals who work for whoever pays them. It would make as much sense to complain that SAFER and Dobson patronized the same Kinkos.

What’s really troubling here is the implicit negativity of Progress Now’s statement. While they claim that “this is about hypocrisy” and “not about the merits of legalization,” I don’t think you can feign neutrality on the marijuana reform issue while simultaneously trying to skewer a political opponent simply for operating in proximity to it.

For a real example of hypocrisy, try to reconcile Progress Now’s seemingly positive positions on drug policy with their refusal to support marijuana reform in Colorado.

Progress Now accepts suggestions regarding their policy positions here.

My suggestion is not to say this unless you mean it:

[We] support reform to drug laws so that less people are sent to prison and more people are rehabilitated from chemical addictions.
United States

Medical Marijuana: In New York Democratic Gubernatorial Race, Spitzer Says No, Suozzi Says Yes

Running an uphill race for the Democratic Party gubernatorial nomination against state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi hoped to use a televised debate to heighten his profile and open some space between himself and Spitzer on the issues. He managed to do that on a number of issuing, including medical marijuana.

When asked by debate moderator Dominick Carter whether medical marijuana should be legalized in the Empire State, Spitzer answered "no," which generated booing from the audience, while Suozzi answered "yes."

The next question was whether the candidates had ever used marijuana. Both said "yes," but Spitzer's affirmative was followed by laughter, then clapping from the audience. Neither candidate elaborated on their monosyllabic responses.

While Spitzer opposes medical marijuana, he has been a staunch supporter of Rockefeller drug law reform. Neither candidate, however, mentions Rockefeller drug law reform as a major issue on their campaign web sites.

(Audio of the debate can be accessed on the WNYC web site -- the marijuana exchange is 57:47 deep into the file.)

Feature: Holy Smoke Bust Mobilizes Interior British Columbia Cannabis Community

Although the owners of Holy Smoke, the Nelson, British Columbia, head shop and culture center, wouldn’t exactly put it this way, the raid on their shop two weeks ago tomorrow is igniting a holy war in the cannabis-friendly Kootenay region of the province. When Nelson city police ended a de facto truce by arresting Holy Smoke co-owner Paul DeFelice for allegedly selling marijuana at the store, Holy Smoke and its supporters started mobilizing to fight back, and they've only just begun.
Nelson, British Columbia: Conflict Amidst the Beauty, Thanks to the Drug Warriors
Just north of the US-Canada border above Spokane, Washington, Nelson, a city of 10,000 located along the shoes of Kootenay Lake's West Arm, is a veritable reefer redoubt. While official figures are naturally impossible to come by, marijuana growing is a major local industry, both in Nelson and in the nearby Slocan Valley. Area youths take it across the mountainous, forested border on foot and by mountain bike, on skis and on snowmobiles, while bigger operations may employ helicopters and sophisticated tracking devices. Area merchants have told DRCNet they know when the crops are coming in because that's when their sales increase.

Holy Smoke is the most visible symbol of the region's cannabis culture, but there are plenty more if one looks, from the hemp shop on downtown Baker Street to the dreadlocked young denizens of the town to the four marijuana grow supply shops -- the small town has twice the number of the entire Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area -- not to mention the smell of sativa and indica smoke washing through the air not infrequently.

The shop, co-owned by DeFelice, Alan Middlemiss, and attorney Dustin Cantwell, has been a center of the region's cannabis culture since it opened in 1996. A year later, Nelson police raided it, but were laughed out of court by a judge who demanded they learn how to properly do searches, and since then they have largely left the place alone. Even as whispers that marijuana was being sold from the store spread within the community, police failed to act. In fact, Nelson police told DRCNet off the record earlier this year that they believed selling at the shop had made street dealers scarce. If so, that has all changed now.

DRCNet attempted to speak with Nelson police this week, to no avail. The officer in charge of the raid, Sgt. Steve Bank, curiously warned that more arrests were coming, then went on vacation, and no one else at the department wanted to talk about the raid.

With DeFelice facing possible prison time for alleged marijuana sales -- something Holy Smoke is careful to neither confirm nor deny given the parlous legal situation -- and police threatening more busts in the near future, the shop and its supporters are rallying around the cause. "We are preparing to take a 'lowest law enforcement priority' measure to the city council," said Middlemiss, "and we are taking to the streets."

At the same time six Nelson police officers were raiding Holy Smoke and arresting DeFelice, a 15-year-old girl was dosed with Rohypnol and raped, Middlemiss said. "If the police had their priorities straight, that might not have happened."

Holy Smoke and its supporters will tap into the Nelson area's long traditions of nonviolent protest and counterculture activism, he said. "Nelson has a long and glorious history of nonviolent action, from the First Nations to the Doukhobors [a Russian sect that emigrated to the region a century ago] to the draft dodgers, even the Japanese who were interned in camps near here in World War II organized and protested. We have a rebellious nature here, but we've been lulled into complacency," he told DRCNet.

The Kootenay region cannabis nation will hold a mass march and protest in Nelson on August 5. "I think there is huge support for responsible marijuana use around here, for reordering police priorities, for making adult marijuana use the lowest priority," said Middlemiss. "But we need to be consolidating, we need a really large march, and we're hoping people will literally come out of the hemp woodwork for it. This will be a massive pro-marijuana rally, not a smoke-in, and we are expecting mass support," he said.

"Look, our community has had enough of US choppers flying around looking for a benign herb, we've had enough of illegal DEA operations in our country, we've had enough of wasting our tax dollars on nonviolent drug offenses," Middlemiss continued. "We want to get to the bottom of our drug problems, but the police are the worst way of going about it."

Support for Holy Smoke and marijuana legalization is not limited to the dreadlocked set. "Our supporters include bus drivers, janitors, mothers, lawyers, dentists. The chamber of commerce and local businesses will support us at the city council," said Middlemiss. "Heck, the chamber has even asked us to advertise because they get so many people coming to town and asking them how to find us."

With similar attacks on another cannabis café, Hamilton's Up in Smoke, and a new conservative national government rumbling ominously about toughening the marijuana laws, the Holy Smoke folks are feeling like they may be pawns in a larger, more sinister game. "The conservatives want to stifle the alternative culture, but here in Nelson, it is part of the fabric of the city and every business in town depends on the cannabis economy. We are wondering if the marching orders are coming from Washington," Middlemiss said.

"I think this is part of some sort of joint DEA-Canadian justice ministry operation," said Holy Smoke co-owner Dustin Cantwell. "The orders for this must have come from on high. The conservatives who came to power with Prime Minister Harper and his gang are embracing the American agenda, and they're starting with folks like us who stick out of the water. But we're the tip of the iceberg. Below the water line is our mass base."

Holy Smoke is still open and still smoking, both indoors in its smoking room and outdoors on the nearby public land turned into a mini-park by local cannabis consumers who enjoy looking across the lake at Elephant Mountain as they toke. And it remains headquarters both for the local cannabis community and the upcoming protests. Contact them via the web site if you want to help.

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