The University of Utah’s third annual Hempfest on Sept. 29, organized by the U’s Students for Sensible Drug Policy, SSDP, brought out a very diverse crowd to the Ray Olphin Student Union Patio and Free Speech Zone, from students browsing by the different tables in-between classes and curious faculty to families of dread-locked hippies and passionate marijuana advocates.
Despite the overwhelming amounts of cardboard and spray painted marijuana leaves, the theme of the day was more about marijuana and hemp education than “let’s all get stoned.”
“We are tired of sending peaceful marijuana smokers to jail,” said Brett Black, spokesperson for Salt Lake City’s chapter of NORML, National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, during an early speech at Wednesday’s Hempfest.
Other speakers throughout the day included Jake Shannon, Congressional candidate, and Andy McCullough, the Libertarian candidate for Utah Governor. Along with the SSDP representative Valerie Douroux and Robert Latham, a Criminal Defense attorney who specializes in marijuana charges.
McCullough and the rest of the Libertarian party are for all out legalization of marijuana and believes that incarceration for marijuana is “a terrible waste of taxpayers money.”
Latham talked about the smartest way to handle a police officer in a situation involving getting searched or illegal substances. His words were “silence is golden.”
Many local first vendors such as Smokers Guru and Bagman Utah were selling locally blown glass tobacco pipes and locally made bags and clothing.
Informational booths from marijuana education and the versatility of hemp to Planned Parenthood and even a spokesperson for LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, participated in Wednesday’s festivities.
At one booth dedicated to hemp education, a girl in a multi-colored hat made entirely of hemp described the various uses of the plant including being able to use the fibers in the plant as an alternative clothing material and even making a sort of cement with it.
The Planned Parenthood table gave out free condoms and STD education pamphlets.
Food vendors also made their way into Hempfest. Hemp Smoothies, a mint lime-aid stand, and Navajo tacos were among the most popular.
Local music artists including SNUG n’ Budder Fingers, reggae band Headease & Wasnatch, and psychedelic guitar player Dylan Rowe entertained festival goers on the east end of the festival on the Hempfest Main Stage.
On the west end of the festival, Cannabis Cove, local DJ’s spun an eclectic mix of electronic music ranging from techno and dub step to electro and tribal house.
Belly dancers, hula-hoop dancers and LED poi spinners could also be seen on either end of Hempfest. People, young and old, could be seen dancing or tapping their feet to the music.
The general consensus of the performers and organizers was that Hempfest was full of “positive vibes” and was a huge success. The hope is that SSDP will continue the tradition of Hempfest next year.