Pubdate: Tue, 19 Jun 2001
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2001 Bangor Daily News Inc.
Author: Associated Press


PORTLAND - It looks like the marijuana festival scheduled for this weekend 
in Pownal won't be happening after all because the resident who was going 
to lease his land to the organizers has changed his mind.

Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson announced Monday 
that the Maine Vocals had canceled the event.

"I was very pleasantly surprised," Anderson said. "I think that might be an 

Maine Vocals founder Don Christen had vowed to hold the Cumberland County 
Hemp Festival despite being denied a permit by the town's selectmen. Town 
officials said the group's application did not meet the requirements of the 
mass-gathering ordinance.

Christen framed the issue as a matter of free speech. The town, meanwhile, 
voiced concerns about the traffic, trespassing and campfires that could 
accompany the thousands of people expected to descend on its rural 
community of 1,500.

The festival would have featured 28 bands, speakers and educational booths 
on Andy Jordan's farm. Tickets would have cost $30 each, with the money 
promoting the legalization of marijuana.

Jordan told officials last week that he changed his mind, Anderson said.

Anderson sent Jordan a letter that told him his land could be seized and 
forfeited if there were any Class A, B or C offenses involving controlled 
substances other than marijuana committed during the festival.

Anderson said her letter to Jordan was not meant as a threat, but to warn 
him of the possible risks he was taking.

"I also understand that Mr. Jordan's neighbors and friends and fellow 
citizens of Pownal were very unhappy with this festival going on," Anderson 
said. "And Mr. Jordan may be aware of that and he may be motivated by 
wanting to be a good neighbor and resident."

Neither Jordan nor Christen could be immediately reached for comment.

But the Maine Vocals Web site announced the cancellation and said the group 
"will be pursuing the matter," which Anderson interpreted as a threat to sue.

"This is America - anybody can sue anybody for anything," she said. "But 
frivolous lawsuits get thrown out of court very quickly, and I'm not at all 
concerned or worried about defending my actions in court."

Christen's group holds an annual "Hempstock" festival in Starks in central 
Maine each summer. He said he was branching out from Starks to take 
advantage of the greater population in southern Maine.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens