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Feb-14-2011 01:20printcomments

Seattle Hempfest Sues City of Seattle for Free Speech Rally

If the permit is not granted, Seattle will surely miss the money Hempfest brings to town.

Seattle Hempfest 2010
2010 Seattle Hempfest attendees topped 100,000.
Photo by Joy Graves

(SALEM / SEATTLE) - In an odd commemoration of the Seattle Hempfest's upcoming twentieth anniversary, organizers of the "protestival" have filed a lawsuit in United States District Court against the City of Seattle.

The biggest hemp festival in the United States is seeking relief under the U.S. Constitution and the Washington Constitution in an effort to obtain a 2011 permit to produce the annual free speech rally to reform America’s laws prohibiting cannabis.

The Seattle Hempfest has become an American tradition within the Cannabis community. Over 100,000 people come from all over the world to attend the huge function, bringing a comparable economy boost to the Seattle area every August.

Last year, they were told of construction planned for the upcoming summer, insisting Hempfest may need to be held in another location.

Hoping to circumvent the construction schedule, and well aware of the slow-moving nature of the Seattle Special Events permit process, Hempfest submitted its special event application earlier than ever, in November 2010, hoping for a decision within the 60-day period set forth by law. 60 days came and went.

After months of negotiations, Hempfest organizers now find themselves with neither a date or a venue for the annual summer “protestival,” preparing to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

As of now, the planned summer construction of the sky-bridge in Myrtle Edwards Park, the location of Hempfest since 1995, has displaced the mammoth event.

The lawsuit, which also includes the mayor of Seattle, director of the Seattle Department of Transportation, director of Seattle Center, and chairperson of the Seattle Special Events Committee, asks the city to issue an appropriate permit for Seattle Hempfest in August 2011 and, if necessary, to enjoin Seattle from implementing the “West Thomas Overpass project” in such fashion as to interfere with the use of Myrtle Edwards Park in August 2011.

With a little over six months to plan and produce the national cannabis reform movement’s flagship event, organizers feel they are fighting for the very existence of the grass roots, all-volunteer effort.

“It is with heavy hearts that we take this action against the city that we love,” said Vivian McPeak, Hempfest executive director.

Vivian McPeak, 2010 Photo: Bonnie King

“We thoroughly wanted to spend the months leading up to Hempfest’s 20th anniversary working on the best event ever. Without a date or a venue that is almost impossible.”

Organizers looked for a suitable replacement location, to no avail. Upon the suggestion of the Special Events Committee, Hempfest contacted the Seattle Center in October 2010 to see if that venue would be suitable for 2011.

After a few months, Seattle Center representatives decided the center could not adequately host Hempfest until 2013 because of pre-existing reservations on some facilities as well as planned Seattle Center construction.

“We are very excited about the prospect of a new foot bridge into Myrtle Edwards Park, but after initially being told by the city that the project would not impact our event, we were suddenly informed we needed to hold the event in June or take Hempfest somewhere else. We’ve been, and we still are looking for alternatives to Myrtle Edwards Park."

"However, there are few venues that are adequate and after many months of meetings we are simply running out of time. We hope we can work with the city to find a workable resolution soon and get back to producing our event,” McPeak added.

"Hempfest is fighting for its life. Help by calling the Mayor’s reception desk at (206) 684-4000 and ask the city to grant Hempfest's permit. Please be very polite, it ain't a simple thing running a city."

The latest updates and info about Hempfest 2011 can be found at Hempfest’s Website at


2010 Seattle Hempfest Snapshots

SOURCE: Press Release

Publisher Bonnie King has been with since August '04. Bonnie has served in a number of positions in the broadcast industry; TV Production Manager at KVWB (Las Vegas WB) and Producer/Director for the TV series "Hot Wheels in Las Vegas", TV Promotion Director for KYMA (NBC), and KFBT (Ind.), Asst. Marketing Director (SUPERSHOPPER MAGAZINE), Director/Co-Host (Coast Entertainment Show), Radio Promotion Director (KBCH/KCRF), and NIE/Circulation Sales Manager (STATESMAN JOURNAL NEWSPAPER). Bonnie has a depth of understanding that reaches further than just behind the scenes, and that thoroughness is demonstrated in the perseverance to correctly present each story with the wit and wisdom necessary to compel and captivate viewers.

View articles written by Bonnie King

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