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​​A group of prominent marijuana activists in Washington state on Thursday signed a letter expressing concern about proposed THC blood limits that would codify driving under the influence (DUI) levels in the state.

“We applaud your willingness to stand up for the repeal of marijuana prohibition,” reads the letter, addressed to the sponsors of marijuana legalization initiative New Approach Washington. “However, we are very concerned about New Approach Washington’s proposal regarding Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis or DUIC.”
The initiative, I-502, would establish a THC blood limit of five nanograms per milliliter (5 ng/ml) in drivers 21 and over. That level is reduced to 0.00 for drivers under age 21.

Graphic: ACCTech

A new institution of higher learning is opening in Seattle. The Academy of Cannabis Culture and Technology is scheduled to officially open on September 7.

ACCTech plans to offer courses and seminars on Washington’s medical marijuana laws, as well as a range of classes providing patients with professional instruction on cultivating their own medicine and cooking with cannabis.
The Academy didn’t waste any time getting things started — it’s already held its first seminar before officially opening its doors. On August 27, Seattle attorney Kurt Boehl educated medical marijuana patients on how to comply with Washington state’s complex medical marijuana laws.

Photo: Cinema Libre Studios

​Director Rod Pitman’s just-released cannabis documentary, A NORML Life, goes beyond the recitation of facts and figures to capture the beating heart of the legalization movement, in all its passion, its commitment and its excitement.

It’s an extraordinary job by Pitman, producer Doug Ross and a rich cast of cannabis characters including Seattle Hempfest founder Vivian McPeak (who, near the beginning of the show, rightly says America’s marijuana laws are “fixing a problem that never existed,”), and it wastes no time in going for the emotional resonance which is the reason many of us are involved in this movement.
The documentary, which compellingly tells the proud story of advocates fighting for the legalization of marijuana, was released by Cinema Libre Studios on DVD last week. The film presents a strong case that the use of medical marijuana is effective, and that it is a safe alternative to pharmaceutical medicines.

Graphic: Seattle Hempfest

There has to be a Number One in every category. When it comes to pot rallies, Seattle Hempfest is the biggest and arguably the best on the planet.

The monster marijuana rally — or “protestival,” as organizer Vivian McPeak puts it — is marking 20 years of existence with this year’s event, held at Myrtle Edwards Park on the beautiful Seattle waterfront — and for the first time ever, Hempfest is slated for three days.
The party begins at high noon on Friday, August 19 and continues until 8 p.m., then things start up again at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, lasting until 8 each night.

Photo: Cannabis Culture
Under a joke amendment proposed by a Republican legislator in Washington, medical marijuana patients could order pizza on the state’s dime.

​It seems everyone’s a comedian when it comes to cannabis. Now a Washington legislator has added a joke pizza amendment to a bill which would expand the state’s medical marijuana law.

Rep. Glenn Anderson (F-Fall City) proposed a joke amendment requiring the state to reimburse medical marijuana patients for pizza the eat while legally high. Anderson’s amendment specifies it would not reimburse for more than three toppings, or for tips to pizza delivery drivers.
Philip Dawdy, spokesman for the Washington Cannabis Association, a trade group for the medical marijuana industry in the state, didn’t seem to mind the joke. “It’s the best amendment in the history of the Legislature,” Dawdy told reporter Jonathan Martin at The Seattle Times.
“The entire subject is rather cheesy,” Seattle Hempfest organizer Vivian McPeak told Toke of the Town. “All I am saying is give pizza chance.”
“Pizza is a no-no on renal diets but hey, as long as it’s government subsidized… after all, they’re concerned with our health, right?” medical marijuana patient/activist Ric Smith told us.

Photo: NORML Blog
Rick Steves addresses 100,000 people at Hempfest 2008. The world-famous pot protestival will be better than ever in 2011, for the first time ever extending to three days.

​Those of us who care about Seattle Hempfest, the world’s largest cannabis “protestival,” have been a little worried the past few months. Organizers of marijuana’s biggest annual event, which is slated to celebrate its 20th anniversary this year, have for months been embroiled in a permit squabble with the City of Seattle. Some folks were even speculating openly that Hempfest might not happen.

Well, it’s gonna happen. And not only is it gonna happen, but it’s gonna be bigger and better than ever before. After trying unsuccessfully to get a third day added to the event last year — thus adding Friday to the traditional Hempfest days of Saturday and Sunday — organizer Vivian McPeak said today he had gotten the go-ahead for a three-day festival this year.

Photo: Seattle Hempfest
Hempfest always is a huge, happy hunk of humanity.

​With no confirmed venue and no confirmed dates, Seattle Hempfest, the world’s largest annual cannabis protestival, is fighting for its life.

Hempfest has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the City of Seattle in an effort to get a 2011 permit to produce the annual free speech rally, which aims to reform America’s cannabis prohibition.
The lawsuit calls the city’s unwillingness to delay planned construction, or to stage the work to accomodate Hempfest, “unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious.”
The suit, which also includes Seattle’s mayor, director of the Seattle Department of Transportation, director of Seattle Center, and chairperson of the Seattle Special Events Committee, asks the city to issue an appropriate permit for Seattle Hempfest in August 2011.
The lawsuit also seeks, if necessary, to stop Seattle from implementing the West Thomas Overpass project in such a way as to interfere with the use of Hempfest’s home, Myrtle Edwards  Park, in August 2011. Planned summer construction of the skybridge in Myrtle Edwards Park, which has been the location of Hempfest since 1995, has displaced the mammoth event which routinely draws more than 100,000 attendees annually.

Photo: Dan Gill/The New York Times
Julie Meyers, 20, smokes “synthetic marijuana” at Petra Cafe and Hookah Bar in St. Louis days before Missouri’s ban was signed into law.

​It was bound to happen, sooner or later, and this is the first time Toke of the Town has heard of it: Laralee Herron, 20, entered the annals of hemp history (though probably not how she wanted) when she was arrested Sunday night in West Monroe, Louisiana, for possession of “synthetic marijuana.”

A search revealed “synthetic marijuana” in Herron’s purse, according to an affidavit. She was charged with “possession of synthetic marijuana” and bond was set at $750.
Eager officers didn’t waste any time getting started on enforcing their shiny new law. Young Herron got busted on the very day that Louisiana’s ban on “synthetic marijuana” went into effect — August 15.
Back on June 29, Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law House Bill 173, making it a crime to possess, sell or manufacture the synthetic drug, and the law took effect Sunday.

Graphic: Seattle Hempfest
Seattle Hempfest is coming to Myrtle Edwards Park on the waterfront, August 21 and 22. See you there!

​​If you’ve never been to Seattle Hempfest, the world’s largest “protestival” based around marijuana, you really owe it to yourself. While it’s hard to describe the vibe of being in a crowd of a couple hundred thousand like-minded people, those who have been there keep coming back again and again.

Hempfest, going strong since 1991, is one of the best and almost certainly the biggest marijuana rally in the world. This year’s edition hits Seattle on Saturday, August 21 and Sunday, August 22, and is dedicated to the memory of legendary hemp activist Jack Herer, whom the movement lost this year.
Free admission, good music, friendly people, and a beautiful setting have always been among the reasons to attend — and Myrtle Edwards Park on the lovely Seattle waterfront is guaranteed to be smelling really good once the party kicks in.
“The Seattle Hempfest is incredibly inspirational,” said Paul Stanford of this year’s primary sponsors The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF).
​”It is the largest event in the world for people who want hemp and cannabis legitimized and restored,” Stanford said. “If you want to have a good time and spend a day or two with a half million or so like-minded people, you should come to the Seattle Hempfest!”