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The Do’s and Don’ts of Attending Hempfest: How to Be Safe and Responsible While Still Having a Good Time

Headed to Hempfest in Seattle this weekend? We’ll be there, too! Before you pack your bag, load up the car and get to the country’s largest cannabis gathering, check out our Do’s and Don’ts to make sure your Hempfest experience is a memorable weekend for all the right reasons.


Do: Know the Law

Yes, recreational cannabis is now legal in Washington. No, this does not mean it will be falling like manna from heaven over the Seattle waterfront this weekend. Keep in mind that selling and distributing cannabis in Washington is still illegal, so don’t expect there to be vendor booths set up so you can restock your supply. (Not yet, at least the final draft of Washington’s recreational legislation is currently coming together.) While using cannabis is still illegal in public parks, historically Seattle police have turned a blind eye to the billowing clouds of smoke over Hempfest, and they’ve already stated they will not be issuing citations.

Thus, it's pretty safe to say you're going to encounter substantial cannabis use this weekend. If you choose to partake, be smart about it — know who you're taking cannabis from, don't use too much, always make sure you're aware of your surroundings, and don't be afraid to throw in the towel when you've reached your personal limits.


Do: Say Hello (and Be Nice) to the Cops

If you aren't familiar with Washington's cannabis laws, police officers will be passing out information attached to bags of Doritos. So grab a snack, get educated and say thanks to them for keeping the event safe.


Do: Plan on Being Outdoors

The Pacific Northwest may not be known for its summer weather, but it’s August and that's when the Seattle summer really shines—and burns. If you want to avoid getting literally baked, bring sunscreen and plenty of water. Hempfest is like a music festival except with lots of cannabis— oh wait, it’s exactly like a music festival, and no one wants to see a replay of the epic tank top burn you earned at Phish last summer.

Of course, it being Seattle, you may encounter some rogue drizzles this weekend so consider carrying an umbrella in case the skies open up. Hempfest will also have large umbrellas stationed throughout the event offering some shade and cover, and you may recognize the umbrella sponsors…


Do: Be Courteous

Hempfest is volunteer-run, and planning three days of music, speakers and crowd management is not easy. Be nice to the volunteers, be patient if you need something and say thanks if you can. Pick up your trash, respect the venue and try not to perpetuate any of the bad stereotypes associated with cannabis users.

Remember why Hempfest was founded in the first place. In the site's own words, the event was founded "in the belief that the public is better served when citizens and public officials work cooperatively in order to successfully accomplish common goals." Hempfest is a celebration of the cannabis plant, yes, but its goal is to also "[seek] to advance the cause of Cannabis policy reform through education, while advancing the public image of the Cannabis advocate or enthusiast through example."

Since legalizing recreational cannabis last fall, much of the country is looking at Washington state to see how we're handling this history-making decision. We'll make a more positive impact on how cannabis is viewed by the rest of the world if our actions at Hempfest are respectful and thoughtful. Fighting, theft, vandalism, and other untoward behavior won't help people with preexisting uncertainty or negativity towards cannabis view the plant and its impact in a more sensible light.


Do: Familiarize Yourself with Hempfest's Policies

Seattle Hempfest has a list of rules and guidelines on their website, so check them out so you know what's what. (Some highlights: no alcohol, weapons, pets, or "genital" nudity.)


Don’t: Drive While Impaired

Just don’t do it. If you need more convincing, keep in mind that local police will be ramping up DUI patrols starting this weekend as part of their annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. Better yet, don’t drive at all if you’re planning on using cannabis at the fest. Use public transportation, a cab, Uber, Lyft, or carpool and save yourself the frustration of finding parking.


Don’t: Be Disrespectful to Your Fellow Attendees

Hempfest draws all sorts of people, from the skateboarder in his twenties to the elderly veteran to the prominent cannabis activist. You will see people who aren’t part of the traditional cannabis crowd and some who are. You will see scantily-clad attendees and speakers dressed in suits and professional attire. You will hear people who have different views on how the cannabis industry should be run. As you embark on some of the best people-watching you'll come across all year, try to respect the fact the differences between your fellow eventgoers.

Remember, Hempfest is a “protestival,” and even though the event's common bond among attendees and speakers is support for cannabis, demographics, personal beliefs, and backgrounds may differ wildly. Relax and see if you can learn something, or at least meet some new people—we can think of one thing you’ll have in common!

Follow these tips and you’ll be sure to have a great time with fellow supporters. There will be plenty to do between six stages of bands, demonstrations and speakers, so make the fest your own! Also, be sure to share your Hempfest photos and thoughts with us on Facebook and Twitter. We'll be there all weekend long covering Hemposium sessions for our Leafly News & Culture section, conducting interviews with speakers and attendees, snapping photos for our social media accounts, and hopefully getting to meet some of our beloved fans! So keep your eyes peeled for staff in Leafly t-shirts and say hello if you see us!

photo credit: MaplessInSeattle via photopin cc

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Rachel Chambers

Rachel is a lifelong writer and ardent supporter of cannabis as medicine.

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