Pubdate: Sat, 02 Jun 2001
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2001 Bangor Daily News Inc.


POWNAL - A marijuana advocacy group that started an annual rock festival 
called Hempstock plans to hold a similar festival in Pownal later this 
month despite the town's rejection of a mass-gathering permit.

Don Christen of Maine Vocals said after Tuesday night's vote that he would 
abide by the decision. But he said Friday that he had changed his mind.

Speaking from his home, Christen said Friday morning that he will proceed 
with the festival June 22-24 featuring 28 bands, speakers and educational 
booths on Andy Jordan's farm in Pownal.

"This is America and the Constitution says we have a right to gather, not 
just if the town of Pownal says we can," Christen said.

Christen's group holds an annual Hempstock festival in Starks in western 
Maine each summer. He said he was branching out from Starks to take 
advantage of the greater population in southern Maine.

In Pownal, he said he tried to meet the letter of the town's mass-gathering 
ordinance. Instead of working with him, the Board of Selectmen chose to 
"nitpick" to try to prevent the festival from happening, he said.

The town's ordinance makes specifications about such things as the number 
of trash cans, toilets, parking spaces, and medical and security personnel. 
It also specifies noise limits.

"We never give up. This is ridiculous. Now instead of fighting for our 
rights on the cannabis end of things ... now we're fighting for freedom of 
speech and the right to gather," Christen said.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart