Cannabis festivals are a funny thing: they’re just about the only conventions for a legal good in which that good is not legally allowed to be consumed. (If there are beer fests where you can’t drink beer or pie festivals where you can’t eat pie, we don’t know about them.)
Case in point: Washington, D.C. is going to host the first ever National Cannabis Festival on April 23. And festival organizer Caroline Phillips tells the Washington Post that the NCF “won’t be promoting or approving of any on-site cannabis use,” and that “The event will be in full compliance with D.C. law.”
According to the website, 29 vendors have already signed on for the event, many of whom are cannabis product distributors. But the festival will not condone the use of the very product it’s celebrating. So the NCF is a legal festival for an illegal drug.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that people aren’t going to be smoking. Most festivals sidestep a few laws to make sure their participants have a good time. It’s just a question of how much sidestepping the local cops are willing to let slide.
People getting locked up for illegal toking would work against the very idea of the NCF, but not using it at all could send the message that consuming marijuana is a socially abnormal thing to do. The festival is meant to “show the rest of the world… some of the naysayers that we are normal, regular people,” says DC dispensary GM Vanessa West in an NCF video.
The NCF does distinguish itself in that it appears to be politically motivated more than the financial motives of many other major cannabis festivals in the country. The idea for it was given birth by “a group of cannabis policy advocates, business owners and enthusiasts,” according to the NCF website.
“Last year there were 400,000 people who got arrested for marijuana possession,” said Mark Burnett MD of Johns Hopkins General Preventive Medicine in the video, “and it’s only appropriate that the NCF be held here in the district so that the people on Capitol Hill can hear the movement and the cries from the people all around the country who say… it’s time to put an end to marijuana prohibition.”
The festival takes place April 23 at noon in the RFK Stadium. De La Soul headlines the event. General admission is $35 and VIP is $250. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.
Photo of the Million Marijuana March via Wikimedia Commons