Oregon’s Portland Hempstalk: Cannabis Festival or Police State?

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Hempstalk took place September 26th & 27th at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park located in downtown Portland. Despite the events rocky history with the Portland Police Department, founder & organizer Paul Stanford managed to pull off the event at the serious cost of banning all marijuana use at the festival. Many OMMP cardholders (including myself) assumed a safe, discreet area would be made available for adults over 21 year of age to medicate out of plain sight. Let it be known, we were all wrong.

Upon entering the festival, activist Brandon Krenzler and his family described the security within the facility as the “marijuana gestapo”. This is a stark contrast in comparison to Hempstalk’s usual laissez-faire security enforcement. Krenzler had a few choice words for the organization after security was so focused on stopping all smoking, Krenzler’s child was almost abducted:

“If you weren’t so busy trying to bust peaceful smokers maybe you could have actually done your job! Instead you missed a visibly high hard drug addict try not once but twice to grab Mykayla. You know a creep when you see one and I was right. I had to step outside of my peaceful being and react with aggression to make the dude leave the area. Why don’t you try to do a better job, and the same goes for all law enforcement and security.  Smoking weed is not a real crime. Focus on the real criminals like the one that I had to handle myself while caring for children.”

Porkchop Project’s, longtime activist/medical marijuana grower/OMMP cancer patient was kicked out of the event after one of his booth workers (who was also an OMMP patient) lit up a joint to smoke because he was seizing. Porkchop’s take on the event:

“My entire booth and I got kicked out of Hempstalk and I was arrested because my patient working our both smoked a joint to stop seizing. It didn’t matter. The event organizers and police told us to get out despite that we were all OMMP card holders.”

Porkchop did not understand the need for the police to be present within the festival. Oregon is home to multiple alcohol based festivals such as the International Beer Festival, which did not include a militarized police force rooming the event grounds.

Before entering the festival, my own group was personally harassed by two park rangers working the event. Everyone within my group was an OMMP cardholder but smack-dab in the middle of down town Portland, we were all harassed for smoking a joint before entering Hempstalk. I tried calling the Park Rangers office for a quote and was denied.

I contacted Hempstalk hospitality manager Nickie D. “Dank” for her thoughts on the overzealous security. 26 days before the event was held Nickie went under major abdominal surgery. She had to focus on healing and a plan to create a discreet space for OMMP patients to medicate was never accomplished. These were her comments on the aggressive security:

“Because we moved the event from Kelly Point to the Waterfront, we had to consequently up the security. What the city doesn’t understand is that not all OMMP patients are over 21, so people confuse recreational minor usage with real-time patient usage. Down the block there was a hotel beer-party/concert and drunk people ran amuck, but it was our OMMP patients that were being harassed, not the aggressive drunks. I feel awful about the way our OMMP patients were treated by security, it won’t happen next year or ever again.”

An event that was originally predicated on patient education, had to over-enforce the crowd so the festival could take place in downtown Portland. The brunt of the punishment ultimately affected all OMMP patients. No one could safely medicate without facing harassment or potential arrest. In that regard, Hempstalk was an epic failure because of the extensive policing of law-abiding, cardholding Oregonians. Vendors did their best to showcase their products, but the medicating ban dampened things for everyone.

Next year Hempstalk promises that discreet spaces for OMMP patient usage or general usage (if Measure 91 passes) will be put into place so this doesn’t happen again. Patients deserve to be respected and feel safe at the festivals created for them. As a cardholder, I certainly left with more anxiety than when I arrived.

For previous Ladybud articles about Measure 91, click here.

Photo Credit: Cosmic_bandita/ under[CC-BY-SA-2.0] via Wikimedia Commons