Seattle's Hempfest needs money to survive

Seattle Hempfest needs money to survive

SEATTLE -- Seattle Hempfest, the iconic pot festival, is having money troubles.

The festival is scheduled for Aug. 19 through Aug 21 at Myrtle Edwards Park.

And money or not, the 25th version of Hempfest will take place, says Vivian McPeak, the festival's executive director and a co-founder. There could be some cutbacks this year.

But the 26th version in 2017 is in doubt.

"If we can't pay our bills, we may not go on next year," he said.

Hempfest has started a gofundme page to raise money. It has a goal of raising $150,000 and has collected $390 since fundraising began in mid-June. It has attracted only 11 donors.

"Now in it's 25th year, due to lack of donations from the community and attendees, the event's existence is threatened," Hempfest said on its gofundme page. "Our mission is to Keep Hempfest Alive for future generations to experience. Please DONATE NOW!"

McPeak blames the financial squeeze on the first day of the event last year when it rained. It essentially turned a three-day event into a two day event, McPeak said.

He said the event costs about $850,000 to put on. People who attend are asked to make a donation. Last year, that amounted to less than $1 for each of the 100,000 people who attended.

Hempfest draws thousand of people to the Seattle waterfront for a weekend of music, marijuana and political activism.

The political activism has spread. Voters in Washington and Colorado made pot legal in 2012. Alaska and Oregon followed. This fall, California voters will decide on making pot legal.

But McPeak said the growing legalization hasn't dimmed the need for Hempfest. He noted that marijuana is still illegal under federal law and that people continued to be jailed for marijuana offenses across the country. And in pot-legal Washington the state has been shutting down unlicensed medical marijuana businesses, McPeak said.

"The sense of urgency is still there," he said.

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