|Gainesville Hempfest Draws 200, Celebrates Ruling|
Posted by FoM on December 05, 2000 at 07:21:55 PT|
By Andrew Marra, Independent Florida Alligator
Its organizers came to rail against the Gainesville establishment; its long-attending supporters to distribute their literature and sell their merchandise.
But most of the people who came to the Downtown Plaza on Sunday for Hempfest -- the annual event to support the legalization of marijuana -- were there to peruse the art booths, the clothing vendors and the more than 40 bands slated for the daylong affair.
Organizers of this year's event also celebrated the October ruling of a federal appeals court that declared unconstitutional a number of city ordinances requiring the event's organizers to obtain permits before they could hold the event.
The ruling stemmed from a 1995 lawsuit filed by the event's organizers. At Hempfest in 1994, a number of so-called "doobie tossers" reportedly tossed more than 3,000 marijuana-filled cigarettes into the crowds at the event.
The next year, Gainesville officials denied event organizers the permits they needed for the event. Organizers say they held the event anyway, and the Melbourne-based Cannabis Action Network, which sponsors "hemp festivals" in the state, filed a lawsuit against the city.
Tom Miller, an event organizer who once ran for city commissioner, spoke between band sets to criticize Gainesville City Manager Wayne Bowers, whom he said has been hostile to Hempfest.
"He'll probably be here for a long, long time and so will we," Miller said from the stage. "But some of us will be stoned."
About 200 people braved the 53-degree temperatures and overcast sky to attend Hempfest. Event organizers, who said the event has attracted 5,000 people in the past, expected the crowds to increase as the day progressed.
Event organizers complained of heavy-handed police treatment at past Hempfests. Miller recalled one year when Gainesville Police sent about 80 officers to patrol a crowd of 300 people.
But Miller said "lately they've chilled out."
GPD spokesman Keith Kameg said there were about 10 officers patrolling in a "very low-key presence" on Sunday.
"What we've tried to get away from is us being the focus," Kameg said.
Kameg said police would monitor the event until midnight, which is as long as the permit obtained by event organizers allows them to convene.
But the political issues did not seem to be a concern for most of those who were at Hempfest.
Dutch Holland spent the afternoon leaning back in a lawn chair behind a table he had set up with merchandise espousing what he called his "anti-propaganda."
"This is truth so it had to be anti-propaganda," he said, nodding to the T-shirts he was selling for $12, emblazoned with messages like "Marijuana -- The Big Lie" and "Gainesville Green."
Holland said he sees Hempfest as a way for a diverse group of people to get together and celebrate free thought.
Mike Palmieri, sitting behind a table a few feet away, has attended every year with a Pasco County organization called Florida Organization Reformed Marijuana Laws.
This year he brought a collection of products made from marijuana seed oil, including shampoo, shower gel and body lotion.
For a dollar, he sells a lollipop made from a derivative of marijuana.
"It tastes just like a fresh-cut bud of weed," he said.
(U-WIRE) Gainesville, Fla.
Related Articles & Web Site:
Florida Cannabis Action Network
|Comment #1 posted by i_rule_ on December 05, 2000 at 14:37:30 PT|