Moscow's Hemp Fest Sparks Debate!

Moscow's Hemp Fest Sparks Debate!
Posted by FoM on June 15, 1999 at 05:37:11 PT
Source: Moscow - Pullman Daily
Arlene Kellberg insists there is more to Moscow's Hemp Festival than tie-dyed T-shirts and hemp jewelry. Though she's never been to the annual spring event herself, Kellberg told city leaders today of the marijuana smoking and drug trafficking she believes to be a large part of the day-long festival in East City Park.
"I understand they have the right to have their festival," Kellberg told the city's Administrative Committee today, "but when they co-exist with youth and the selling of marijuana, that's where I draw the line." Yet Kellberg's report of marijuana use were quite different from what Police Chief Dan Weaver said his records show. He said Kellberg's inquiry was the first time he'd heard of a problem. Weaver told the committee there have never been complaints or arrests of people using or selling drugs during the festival. The reports Kellberg said she's been documenting have not been made to police, he said. "It's interesting that nobody's contacted us," he said. Kellberg said residents have been leery about going to the police. Instead, Kellberg said people call her with complaints and she documents the information with a promise of anonymity. Though she would not give names of any of her sources  most recently more than 10 residents have expressed concern  Kellberg did share some of their stories. Kellberg told the committee of a man who lives across from East City Park who said the stench of marijuana was so bad he could smell it from his home. She also relayed her conversation with a group of Washington State University students, one of them being her granddaughter, who told Kellberg of the illegal marijuana activity. "This is an issue that's not trivial," Kellberg said. "It needs to be addressed." Initially, Kellberg said she wanted city leaders to ban the festival now in its fourth year. Now, she feels she just wants them to be aware of the activity she said is happening there. Kellberg promises to be in attendance at next year's festival and also has looked into having it videotaped. She suggested Weaver look into having undercover officers patrol the park. Though City Supervisor Gary Riedner said that undercover officers could be a possibility, he added that those precautions could be used for the Hemp Festival or any festival in the park. Currently, Weaver said extra patrols around the park are standard practice whenever there's a special event. He also suggested residents with concerns about drug use around the park contact the police department to make their reports. Parks and Recreation Director Randy Rice said he's been pleased with Hemp Festival organizers and doesn't see any reason why the activity shouldn't continue in the park. "They met and exceeded all the requirements," he said. 
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