Pubdate: Fri, 26 May 2000
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2000, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Contact:  414-224-8280
Author: Suzanne Yenchesky, Special to the Journal Sentinel
Note: The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Cited: Weedstock:


Festival Organizer, 11 Others Arrested After Sauk County Sheriff Gets
Court Order

By Suzanne Yenchesky Special to the Journal Sentinel

Last Updated: May 26, 2000

Baraboo - Authorities Friday closed down Weedstock 2000, ordering
several hundred people to leave the annual pro-marijuana rally on a
mint farm near here.

The event's organizer was among 12 people arrested.

About 50 officers dispersed the 300 to 400 people who gathered at a
farm in the Town of Fairfield for the event. Some officers used
megaphones to tell people to leave.

Sauk County Sheriff Randy Stammen obtained a restraining order from
Sauk County Circuit Court Judge Virginia A. Wolfe to block the event
until organizers obtained a license from Stammen.

"It's not my intent to ruin anybody's holiday," Stammen said, " . . .
but basically I have a duty to enforce the law and protect the public."

The organizer of the annual gathering that promotes the legalization
of marijuana, Ben Masel, was arrested on accusations of contempt of
court and resisting an officer.

Masel was blocked from entering the property as he tried to show that
he had a conflicting court order from the next county.

Masel and his attorney, Jeff Scott Olson, had obtained an order from
Columbia County Circuit Court Judge James O. Miller preventing the
arrest of anyone on the premises for unlawful assembly without
probable cause.

"You're violating an order from the court of Columbia County," Masel
told them. Miller, he said, "has ordered you not to arrest anyone for
unlawful assembly, because this is not an unlawful assembly."

Masel, wearing an "I love Big Brother" T-shirt, said he was angry at
the law enforcement presence and blockade of the event.

"These people think they can stomp all over the Constitution, and
they're wrong," Masel said.

But Stammen said the public safety was a main concern for closing the

Officers from several agencies stopped any new Weedstock attendees
from entering the Marcus Gumz farm, and watched as campers trickled
out of the area.

After letting people leave voluntarily for three hours, police and
sheriff's officials went onto the festival site and gave people final

When officers went in, most people were peaceful and "started packing
real fast," the sheriff said.

"There were 11 who didn't want to leave and were warned for a final
time. They didn't leave and they were arrested," also for contempt of
court, he said.

Several carloads of departing festival-goers yelled "I want my money
back," after paying a reported $35 to participate.

Authorities planned to maintain a presence at the farm through the
weekend to keep people from trying to get back on the grounds, Stammen
said. The festival was scheduled to end Monday.

Stammen says organizers had told the media they were anticipating
between 2,500 and 4,000 campers, which would put them in excess of the
1,000-person cap on open air assembly without specific health and
safety guidelines.

Stammen said his interpretation of Miller's order did not counteract
the order he received.

"My understanding is that they were concerned that we would
arbitrarily arrest everybody without probable cause," Stammen said.
"We don't arrest anyone without probable cause."
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake