August 25, 2012

Hempfest, Seattle

Last weekend I was at hempfest, a festival for legalizing marijuana. It was the first time for me at such a festival. There was a huge queue to enter the venue primarily because the security guards were checking the bags of each attendee. Despite these "stringent" checks one could not miss the smell of marijuana that had filled the air.

My first impression of this event was expected -- tattooed people with glazing eyes and teenagers dressed to validate their "coolness." What I did not expect was to see little kids and toddlers gurgling in their hemp tees. Despite this 'high' crowd, the good thing is that the organizers had placed a large number of toilets and the place which made the place much cleaner that what I had expected. Similarly, the police and the organizers had done an amazing job in ensuring that the charged atmosphere does not get out of hand.

The biggest surprise for me was the overwhelming presence of the medical marijuana lobby had controlled the policy making in this region. There were tens of medical marijuana tents. Most of these tents had a beautiful girl who could put any mermaid to shame. Her friends would point out the insanity of the rules prohibiting the use of marijuana and would give you card pointing to their store in Seattle. To get the benefits of marijuana, a calm and peaceful life, one just had to visit these stores, get a prescription from a doctor working "full-time" at the store, and legally buy marijuana within the prescribed limits. Sadly I lost the other things the girls said partially because my blood decided to obey the laws of gravity. At these booths one could also smell the different flavors of pot and see samples of the other calming techniques like "Bhang tonic." However, they did not sell any stuff (officially) at these booths. It was clear that these people were making tons of money.

The other important thing I noticed was the lobbies for different proposals of a particular initiative 502. It was clear the medical marijuana lobby was not in favor of this initiative because if cleared they would loose their market share. Furthermore, the activists pointed out that the medical marijuana lobby was selling at rates which are ten times the rate used in most black marketeers. Once marijuana was legalized then they would loose their monopoly on the "legal marijuana."

But apart from the monetary details, what appealed to me the most what the extent to which democracy was active in this part of the planet. Political activist were truly "active." Any simple conversation with the students present at these booths showed the extent to which they were versed with each aspect of the initiative. They were also very good in convincing to join them. The good thing is that they were willing to debate and clarify any doubts.

What I was expecting was some sex education booth to educate the people. The reason for this was that I could see glazing eyed couples with the head of a gurgling kid popping from the behind their necks as their second head. On my way back I could see people distributing condoms. It was clearly part of some advertising campaign but I can only hope that it was useful in ensuring that a kid is born only when their biological parents are planning for one!

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