The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

August 15, 2013

Cops dealing Doritos at post-legalization Hempfest

(Continued)

Hempfest executive director Vivian McPeak said that despite the state-level legalization, work remains as long as pot is illegal under federal law. The event is free, but McPeak is asking attendees to contribute $10 to offset the $800,000 cost of Hempfest so it can continue next year.

"It's going to be the most interesting Hempfest we've ever had because it's going to be part victory celebration," McPeak said. "That said, we feel it's very important to remind everyone that as long as it's still a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act, it's not legal anywhere. The job's not done yet."

The event will feature 117 musical acts on six stages and more than 100 speakers, not to mention 400 vendors offering informational pamphlets, colorful glass bongs, food and art.

McPeak said that to encourage the responsible use of pot, Hempfest this year will be handing out cards with marijuana "gut checks" prepared by Roger Roffman, a University of Washington School of Social Work professor and marijuana dependence expert. The cards note that while marijuana is used safely by many people, it can cause short-term memory loss, affect your ability to drive and cause dependence.

"We hope people will take it more seriously coming from us than from a traditional messenger," McPeak said.

And although police won't be ticketing people for smoking in public, officers will be ensuring public safety and keeping a close eye out for intoxicated drivers leaving the event, Whitcomb said.

Brett Laoruangroch is hoping to use Hempfest to promote his fledgling business, Prohibition Brands, by rolling a joint of at least 2 pounds — an effort Hempfest's organizers have frowned upon as not compliant with Initiative 502. Prohibition Brands hopes to obtain a marijuana processing license under the state's new law.

"This is a big moment for me," he said. As a pot smoker, "You kind of get an image that's cast upon you in a negative way. For a lot of people, this is a you-don't-have-to-hide-in-the-shadows-any-more kind of thing. You can be out in the open."

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Online:

— Hempfest: http://www.hempfest.org

— Seattle police pot law Q&A: http://is.gd/GiMe5I

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Follow Johnson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/GeneAPseattle

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