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.
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.
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.