Will Hempfest Return to Seattle?
The early days of COVID took many events from us. Concerts, gatherings, and all sorts of happenings were canceled or postponed, some indefinitely. While many events are back in action, there are plenty of activities that haven’t resurfaced yet and many recurring events that have shut down for good. This has made many weed lovers in Washington wonder, will Hempfest return to Seattle?
August 1, 2023
Seattle’s last in-person Hempfest took place in 2019, a year before the COVID pandemic shut down much of the world. The yearly event has not occurred since then, leaving many stoners and advocates antsy for any word that the iconic event will come back to the Emerald City.
Seattle has a long history with Hempfest. In fact, it was the first city ever to host an event of this kind, back in 1991. Originally called the Washington Hemp Expo, the first Hempfest hosted about 500 people. By the following year, it was renamed Hempfest and steadily grew from there into a three-day political rally featuring musical performances and arts and crafts, alongside a lot of weed. Hempfest typically sees around 100,000 attendees per year, with some years topping more than 300,000 attendees.
Hempfest has certainly evolved over the years. The first events saw several citations for illegal cannabis use and a handful of arrests. By 2001, the event had reached a state of coexistence with the police, with only one arrest. One of the event’s directors was also pushing a campaign to make cannabis use Seattle’s lowest priority for law enforcement. This initiative, I-75, was passed in 2003.
Over the years, Hempfest has featured a number of speakers, ranging from elected officials to actors like Woody Harrelson, and big-name cannabis advocates like Jack Herer, Ed Rosenthal, and Dennis Peron. The event was instrumental in pushing cannabis reform, and by 2013 when recreational cannabis was launched in the state, the festival was huge, with an annual budget of $700,000.
If you’re interested in reading deeper into Hempfest’s history, check out their year-by-year recap for some truly inspiring stories.
Hempfest’s year online
In 2020, Hempfest joined the many other event organizers looking for creative ways to gather safely and hosted an online Hempfest event. They had musical performances, speakers, and special guests all come together virtually to make Hempfest happen.
While it certainly wasn’t anything like the Hempfest we’ve come to know for decades here in Seattle, it was a fun way to keep the momentum alive. However, since that 2020 virtual event, Hempfest has been on hold.
When will Hempfest come back to Seattle?
It’s been a bummer not having Hempfest these last few years, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. According to the event’s website, the organizers are looking at a 2024 return. So while we won’t get to celebrate another Hempfest this summer, we’ll hopefully see the event relaunch next year.
Seattle’s Hempfest might not currently be in action, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spread the spirit of the event which has always been rooted in advocacy. Cannabis may be legal in Washington now – which we can thank Hempfest and other advocates for pushing – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more work to do still.
While cannabis is legal across many states, it’s not legal on a federal level. There are still many people doing time in prison for cannabis offenses while others are able to own businesses and profit off of the same plant.
Organizations like the Last Prisoner Project are here to combat this injustice. Here’s a blurb from their website:
“Imagine sitting in a cell for years, decades, or even for life, convicted of an activity that is no longer a crime, while thousands of other people build intergenerational wealth doing exactly the same thing.
That is the situation that tens of thousands of cannabis prisoners face today in the United States alone, while countless others languish in jails and prisons worldwide.
The Last Prisoner Project has one singular mission: to set them free.
WE WILL NOT REST AND WE WILL NOT STOP UNTIL
THE LAST CANNABIS PRISONER IS SET FREE.”
You can write letters to prisoners, donate money, or buy merchandise to get involved with the Last Prisoner Project.
Another longstanding group that has been advocating for cannabis reform is Americans for Safe Access. Here’s some info about them:
“ASA works to overcome political, social, and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, research, grassroots empowerment, advocacy and services for patients, governments, medical professionals, and medical cannabis providers.”
If you’re itching for the advocacy aspect of Hempfest, be sure to check out these groups or even research local advocacy groups you can get involved with. We’ve come a long way, but there’s always more work to do and plenty of opportunities to get involved.
Stock up at Piece of Mind Cannabis
There might not be a Hempfest in Seattle this year, but that doesn’t mean you have to skip the greens. Whether you’re near our Bellingham weed store, Spokane pot shop, or other dispensary locations, be sure to stop by and stock up on some great products.
Piece of Mind Cannabis is a medical marijuana and recreational Cannabis dispensary with locations in North Spokane, South Spokane, Bellingham, and Pullman, Washington.Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.