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Sep-24-2016 01:28printcomments

Hempstalk: Cannabis Culture and the Fight For Equality

The message of Hempstalk and cannabis advocates across this state still has not been heard

portland hempstalk
Portland Hempstalk brings incredible artisans and craftsmen together.
Photo: Bonnie King

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Portland’s annual Hempstalk Harvest Festival advocates decriminalization of cannabis for medicinal, industrial, and social use in Oregon and across the United States.

Founded in 2005 by The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF), the festival takes place on September 24- 25 in Waterfront Park, and features food vendors, live music, guest speakers and craft booths. This public event has always been free to attend.

From 2009 to 2013, Hempstalk was held in Kelley Point Park, in the far Northwest corner of Portland, at the confluence of the Columbia River and the Willamette River.

It is estimated 60,000 people attended the two-day event in 2013. In 2014, it was determined by Mayor Charlie Hales and Portland City Council that Waterfront Park was the proper location for our festival.

Hempstalk stands for privacy protections for medical patients and users, smart and fair regulations, increased availability of expungement for those with prior marijuana convictions and decreased criminal penalties for the remaining marijuana crimes.

We gather to remind the public that there are still prisoners of the drug war who need to be freed. We gather in remembrance of the warriors we have lost along the way. And we gather to celebrate our hard-fought victories to show prohibitionists that we will continue this fight until our freedom is complete.

We believe, as a group, it is time to stand up against the petrochemical pharmaceutical military industrial transnational crony corporate elite ruling class.

Over the years, Hempstalk speakers have included: 2016 Libertarian Presidential Candidate Governor Gary Johnson, 2016 Green Party Presidential Candidate Dr. Jill Stein, Poet John Trudell, Poet John Sinclair, Author Bill Drake, Imprisoned Cannabis Activist Eddy Lepp, Dr. Tod Mikuriya, Dr. Phillip Leveque, Seattle Hempfest Director Vivian McPeak and Hemp Pioneer Jack Herer.

Some of the organizations speaking on our platform this year include: Pacific Green Party, Libertarian Party, The Bus Project, KBOO Community Radio, MS Society of Oregon, Safer Shirts, Compassionate Oregon, Salem-News.com, Portland NORML and Parents 4 Pot.

The passage of Measure 91 marked a monumental shift in Oregon’s treatment of marijuana. Public discourse about the production, sale, and consumption of marijuana, for both medical and recreational purposes, continues to be a critical component of the development of policy and regulations at the state and local level.

Public events, especially ones hosted in public spaces such as the parks in downtown Portland, are important venues for this ongoing dialogue.

Parks have played, and continue to play, a central role in the narrative of public protest, demonstration, and the dissemination of ideas throughout the history of Oregon and the United States.

For this reason, parks have become the quintessential “public forum”: a government-owned property that is open to public expression and assembly.

According to Mayor-Elect Ted Wheeler, there are a number of ways that he plans to lead on cannabis policy and advocacy as the Mayor of Portland.

He has stated if business owners and people know that Portland is a safe place where they're respected and welcomed, they'll open businesses here and hire Portlanders who want to work here.

We know that Portland has already successfully hosted several public consumption events here. There will be growing pains, but there is no reason Portland cannot be a leader when it comes to cannabis-related festivals and events.

Wheeler also believes that we must protect the rights of patients as was intended when Measure 91 was passed and that patients and people enjoying cannabis recreationally must have access to a safe place to consume indoors. He supports exploring regulation of public consumption venues locally.

“Cannabis cafés, for example, potentially represent a safe place to consume. There are industry advocates who will be bringing these issues before the legislature in 2017.

"Cannabis shouldn't be consumed anywhere that cigarettes aren't consumed, but if the goal is safe public consumption, we have work to do in Portland,” Wheeler has stated.

It is clear that the message of Hempstalk and cannabis advocates across this state still has not been heard. When we voted to regulate cannabis, it was because we wanted to let the thousands of users in Oregon come out of the closet and to be seen as the productive contributors to society that we are.

After regulation, when seeking special permitting for public event cannabis consumption, we find ourselves pushed back into those same old closets by fear motivated, overzealous regulators who still see us as criminals getting away with something.

Alcohol drinkers can drink in public at bars, restaurants, and specially permitted park events. Cannabis consumers should be allowed the same opportunity.

Source: Hempstalk Harvest Festival press release

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©2017 Salem-News.com. All opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Salem-News.com.


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