The world’s largest cannabis event celebrates its milestone, 25th year in Seattle this Aug. 19 – 21, with over 100,000 people expected to attend.
The event, that organizers call a “protestival” is described as the world’s largest pot rally where attendees have advocated for cannabis legalization for over two decades, now entering a post-prohibition world in Washington State.
“More people have attended and participated in the Seattle Hempfest than any other cannabis event in the world,” said Hempfest executive director Vivian McPeak. “People laughed at us when we started in 1991, telling us that pot would always be illegal. Those people are not laughing today.”
McPeak said while cannabis reform has made great advancements, Hempfest still sees improvements such as the ability for adults to grow cannabis at home, legally, and more reasonable tax laws for cannabis businesses.
McPeak said that rain in 2015 was hard on last year’s event, estimating that it drove away around $140,000 in business. McPeak said, if 2016 can’t turn things around, there may not be 26th year for Hempfest.
State regulations governing the new industry have made it difficult for vendors to advertise at the free event.
“If you have a 502 license, you can have a logo, you can have your name, and you can give out information about vague subjects,” McPeak said. “You cannot promote any of your products in any way, shape or form.”
With Hempfest responsible for $7 million in revenue for the region and supporting over 100 jobs, McPeak said that the event is vital to continue and press for continued improvement in the cannabis sector.
A GoFundMe campaign has been organized to help Hempfest recover from last year’s loss, with over $1,500 currently raised by supporters.