Event Updates: No Cannabis Cup, and a Waterfront Hempstalk

Bad news for Portland cannabis fans. As it turns out, Portland will not be having a 2015 HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup. Similarly to Hempstalk, the Cannabis Cup was continuously denied permits for locations in Portland. It’s strange, considering how much revenue the cup would bring, but apparently the largest opponent was the OLCC. No surprise there.

There are only so many venues that could host something as large as the Cannabis Cup. Amanda Younger, the Event Director for HIGH TIMES stated that “Portland-area venues that can accommodate such volume inevitably have liquor licenses. The OLCC made extremely clear that holding a Cannabis Cup at a venue with a liquor license would put that liquor license in jeopardy of being revoked, regardless of whether or not liquor would be served at the Cannabis Cup.” A continuous road-block for progress, the OLCC has been exercising the power granted by Measure 91. Which is, like, all the power – essentially the OLCC is the only government agency that has control over the cannabis industry and for some reason it’s holding Oregon back. HIGH TIMES is a huge name in the industry, and the Cannabis Cup is an international phenomenon. It’s pretty lame that Younger says that “bringing the HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup to Oregon has proven to be a Herculean task— in fact, it’s been the most difficult of all of our Cannabis Cups to get off the ground.” So, what now?

The dates of Portland Hempstalk Harvest Festival have officially been announced: Oct. 17th – 18th. It certainly has the air of an Autumn harvest festival – but the real backlash is due to the location. To no fault of Paul Stanford or Hempstalk’s own, Tom McCall Park will once again be the host of Hempstalk. Fighting the OLCC and the Portland Police Commission was no easy task, and that seems largely not of concern to most Hempstalk attendees. It’s true, the event will be a shadow of its days at Kelly Point Park, but it seems that all these large events are met with resistance.

To HIGH TIMES, the city of Milwaukie seemed like a good alternative to metro Portland, but even that didn’t pan out. After exhaustive negotiations beginning in July this year, Younger withdrew the application for the Cannabis Cup in Milwaukie herself. She says to the city, “It has become clear to us that regardless of the amount of time we spend going back and forth on this application, the City of Milwaukie will never grant it.” Another embarrassing set-back. Hopefully Oregon and its government officials and agencies realize that legalization was a good idea, and that progress and possibilities for the state lie ahead.

Hempstalk in Portland: Finally Happening in 2015!

Hempstalk in Portland, long before legalization, has always been a way for like-minded cannabis enthusiasts to gather in a large and safe setting. The first year I attended, it was hosted at Kelly Point Park. It was a fantastic celebration – vendors of all varieties, stages with all sorts of presenters and music, and hordes of happy people. Then, last year in 2014, Hempstalk in Portland was moved to Tom McCall Park, on the waterfront.

Saying it paled in comparison is an understatement. Being so out in the open yes, got rid of the public smoking, but also got rid of that sense of safety. All of a sudden, us hemp fans were feeling vulnerable, despite being at an event totally for us. Where my friends and I had spent all day at Kelly Point Park, we spent barely two and a half hours at the Tom McCall Park. We walked through all the vendors (it felt like a fraction of the amount at Kelly Point Park) in single lap, and felt like there was no other reason to be there.

Hempstalk Portland

Photo Credit: Hempstalk

 

After such a different Hempstalk last year, and legalization of weed this year, you’d think that Portland would jump on the opportunity to host a much better Hempstalk and bring in some revenue. Waterfront or not, it’s still Hempstalk, and if you build it people will still come. The city of Portland, however, had other plans. City officials were most certainly affected by the passing of Measure 91, and went ahead and denied the permit for the waterfront when Hempstalk applied for it in November. It wasn’t happening at the waterfront, or anywhere else for that matter, and that was the last bit of Hempstalk news for the majority of this past year.

That is, until the 28th of this month, when Hempstalk’s permit denial appeal took place! Paul Stanford, Hempstalk’s organizer, has been fighting tooth and nail for a permit. This whole summer I’ve been operating under the assumption that no, despite the waves Portland is making in the marijuana world, we would not have our annual Hempstalk festival. Pretty heartbreaking, even moreso anti-climactic! But have no fear! The mayor of our fine city of Portland has established that Hempstalk in 2015 will be on! Much to stoner chagrin, it will still be hosted at the waterfront, but hey, at least it’s on. For Portland to not host a Hempstalk after its year of legalization would be both a slap in the face to the cannabis industry but also  pretty embarrassing for the city.

Hempstalk Portland

The city commissioners agreed this time around, voting 3 to 1. With one commissioner absent, the only opposition was from commissioner Amanda Fritz, who also coincidentally oversees the Portland Police Bureau. Cough. With statements from Hempstalk organizers that they will be devoted to working with city officials, the city council appealed. Stanford assures that “this is not a smoke-out. Our event is about the use of hemp for fuel, fiber, food, the use of adults for social situations, and as medicine.” This year’s Hempstalk will be an invaluable experience, for now not only is it rising from the ashes like a Phoenix, but it will have months of legalization behind it. Smoking will still obviously be a big no-no, but the 21+ possibilities are endless. Every new person you meet will be a new person to trade with or gift to, not to mention all the private smoking that can legally happen after the event. So, yeah, even though it’s still at the waterfront, you bet I’m going! And I’ll see you hemp fans there.