Seattle Hempfest began in 1991 and was initially called the Washington Hemp Expo. That first year the event attracted around 500 people, and since its inception, the festival has grown into one of the "most sophisticated cannabis policy reform events in the world."
The festival, now in its 26th year, has grown tremendously over its lifespan and now features various performers, speakers, entertainers, etc. Its booths sell pipes, bongs, clothes and pretty much anything to do with weed. Hempfest is a free event. However, a $10 donation is suggested as it costs more than $700,000 to produce the event each year.
This year an estimated 100,000 attendees are expected to make the trek to Myrtle Edwards Park in downtown Seattle. The event has been dubbed "a protestival" and advocates federal legalization of marijuana. The event starts Friday and ends Sunday. Consequently, you are not allowed to consume cannabis, even though Washington state has legalized recreational marijuana. State parks have assigned drug-free zone laws. Circa spoke with the organization's executive director, Vivian McPeak, who explained that "the purpose of Hempfest is to change the federal law and get cannabis off the controlled substances act entirely."
However, a national organization called Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is critical of this weekend's Hempfest event in Seattle and is paying for ads in at least one Seattle publication encouraging people to reconsider using marijuana. According to SAM, events like Hempfest are enabling the next "big tobacco."
Visit Hempfest.org for more on Seattle Hempfest.