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August 15th, 2007 Nicholas Deshais | News Stories
 

The City and the Giant Hempstalk

Portland won’t bogart its parks; it will share them with a hemp fest.

     
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Smoke ’em if you got ’em, because Hempstalk is back on!

The third annual event, organized by The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THC…right on!), was canceled last May when Portland Parks and Recreation decided against allowing public parks to be used by pot-smoking partyers.

But after a meeting Aug. 6 between event organizers and the city, it’s a green light to green bud at Sellwood Riverside Park on Sept. 8 and 9. Last September’s Hempstalk drew 15,000 people to Waterfront Park.

“It came down to the wire,” says Paul Stanford, executive director of THCF. Stanford adds the city rolled over after the ACLU threatened to sue, saying that the ACLU “would have filed it, too, if I didn’t like the parks [the city] offered.”

“ACLU assumes that the true basis for a denial of a permit to Hempstalk is not viewpoint discrimination because that would be a clear violation of free speech,” the ACLU wrote the City Attorney’s Office on July 27.

Mark Warrington, public safety manager for Portland Parks and Rec, says the city wasn’t cowed by the ACLU’s letter.

“There were discussions all along,” Warrington says, citing “sticky points” over use of marijuana and alcohol and a medical marijuana tent. Warrington says pot and alcohol won’t be allowed, nor will there be a medical marijuana tent like at last year’s Hempstalk.

Stanford says Hempstalk officials will make announcements from the stage about not smoking pot, but adds the organization “can’t be responsible for what everybody in the crowd does.”

Matt Grumm, City Commissioner Dan Saltzman’s parks liaison, says the only work left is the issuing of a security permit, approved by Portland police and park security. “If they provide an acceptable security plan,” says Grumm, “the permit will be issued.”

The emcee at this year’s Hempstalk will be Tommy Chong, a 69-year-old stoner playing an actor (er…other way around). After his career-defining Cheech&Chong, Chong played Leo in That ’70s Show . In 2004, he spent eight months in jail for selling bongs online. Hempstalk will also feature bands such as the Upright Dub Orchestra, the State of Jefferson and the Herbivores, as well as comedian Derrick Cameron.

The event, cheaper than a dime bag, is free.

 
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