Hemp Fest Returns To Gainesville Saturday After 11 Years


Florida Hempfest
Gainesville Hemp Fest, which was made famous when doobie tossers encouraged civil disobedience in 1993 and 1994, is returning this Saturday.

​You’ve got to admire the temerity of people who insist upon their rights, even in an unfriendly environment. After 11 long years, Hemp Fest is coming back to Gainesville, Florida at high noon on Saturday.

What used to be an annual celebration of marijuana and a protest for its legalization is being brought back by activist Dennis “Murli” Watkins, who served four months in jail for organizing a “doobie toss” at the event in 1994, reports Chad Smith at The Gainesville Sun.

“Hemp has been cultivated for thousands of years,” Watkins said. “Here it is almost 2012, and we’re still fighting this same stupid battle.”
Watkins would not say whether the “doobie toss” — where someone throws a bunch of joints in the air so that they rain down onto the excited crowd — would also be held.
Police, of course, are curious about that, too.

Florida Cannabis Action Network
Look at all the cops in this picture! And how closely they’re watching for someone, anyone, to pull out some weed! This is from the 1995 Gainesville Hemp Fest.

​Gainesville Police Department spokeswoman Angelina Varluri said there will be “several officers” on hand.
“If we have any issues regarding the possession of marijuana, it’s more than likely going to equate to someone having a misdemeanor amount,” Valuri said.k “We’ll handle those incidents on a case-by-case basis.”
Under Florida’s harsh pot laws, possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail.

Florida Cannabis Action Network
Is there no depth to which asshole cops won’t sink? At the 1995 Gainesville Hemp Fest, police arrested federal medical marijuana glaucoma patient Elvy Musikka for smoking cannabis she received from the federal government.

​Watkins and the Melbourne, Florida-based Florida Cannabis Action Network paid $940 to use the plaza between noon and 11:30 p.m., according to Gainesville city spokesman Bob Woods.
At the last event, in 2000, The Sun reported that organizers were predicting a crowd of 1,000. On Saturday, Woods said the city is anticipating on 300 people.
Woods echoed Valuri in saying that marijuana possession will still be considered a crime.
“We will continue to enforce all applications laws,” he said ominously.

Florida Cannabis Action Network
I don’t care who you are, these guys are fucking assholes. (Shot of the stage at Gainesville Hemp Fest, 1995.)

Florida Cannabis Action Network
The atmosphere had evidently improved by the time the 1998 Gainesville Hemp Fest was held.