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Hempfest came to the wrong city for a wink and a nod

Post by TNT Editorial Board / The News Tribune on June 29, 2011 at 9:08 am |
June 29, 2011 2:27 pm

This editorial appears in Wednesday’s print edition.

Marijuana advocates have to stop mistaking Tacoma for Seattle.

Sure, Seattle police may “walk past miles of glass” pipes at that city’s Hempfest, as the attorney for a legalization group told a Seattle reporter.
But that is no reason to expect that Tacoma cops would also ignore obvious drug paraphernalia at a knockoff festival in Wright Park last weekend.

Tacoma hasn’t gone anywhere near the lengths that Seattle has to make itself a safe haven for pot smokers. Yet that hasn’t stopped Hempfest festival organizers from demanding the same kid-glove treatment. They are complaining because police confiscated pipes and bongs and shut down several booths at the Saturday event.

These are the same organizers who had a permit prohibiting the sale of paraphernalia and who had apparently been warned that such items could draw arrests or citations.

They  say they thought they were “covered.” Slapping a “for tobacco use” sticker on a pipe doesn’t make it legit, especially when it’s for sale alongside marijuana brownies at a event called Hempfest.

As for the insinuations that police should have turned a blind eye to violations because the festival paid the city $7,000 to have officers there? Wrong again. Those cops were on patrol, not on the take.

Seattleites may justifiably expect a look-the-other-way approach. They voted nearly nine years ago to make marijuana the lowest priority for local law enforcement, and the city attorney has declared he won’t prosecute minor marijuana crimes.

Not so in Tacoma. An initiative to discourage enforcement of dope laws here hasn’t even qualified for the ballot yet, and getting caught with pot still has consequences.

Cops may not seek out head shops to bust, but they can’t ignore tables of bongs and pipes for sale right under their noses.

In case anyone needs reminding, marijuana – and the tools to smoke it – are still illegal in this state. Even at Hempfest. Even 30 miles south of Seattle. Even in Seattle, for that matter.

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