Pubdate: Sat, 10 Aug 2002
Source: Portland Press Herald (ME)
Copyright: 2002 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.


SKOWHEGAN (AP)- Hempstock organizer Don Christen says this month's 
pro-marijuana festival in Starks will go on, despite a court-imposed ban.

Somerset County Superior Court Justice Joseph Jabar found Christen and his 
Maine Vocals group in contempt of court and denied their bid to overturn 
the town Planning Board's refusal to approve a mass gathering permit for 
Hempstock XII.

Minutes after the judge's ruling Thursday, Christen made it plain he was 
not giving up. "Oh, we're still going to hold Hempstock," he said.

Last year, the town tightened its mass-gathering rules to require that a 
permit be obtained for events where 750 people gather for six hours. The 
old rule applied to gatherings of 2,000 or more people that last for at 
least 12 hours.

Christen sought to get around the new restrictions by allowing 700 campers 
to stay over at the site for the four days of the festival, which is 
scheduled to begin next Thursday. The campers would be issued special wrist 

He would then admit up to 3,800 people before the start of each of the 
five-hour concerts being held twice a day.

"They came up with the best plan not to violate the ordinance," Christen's 
attorney Hal Weisberger said. "They intend to hold a non-mass gathering."

Town attorney Ken Lexier said fliers, radio advertisements and a Web site 
announcing Hempstock XII, promising hours of nonstop music, "clearly 
violate the judge's order."

Jabar continued the case for a week. If Christen goes ahead with the plan 
he outlined in court Thursday, the judge will decide what the punishment 
will be.

Outside Selectman Beth Luce said she was happy about the decision. "It's 
not just about a mass gathering; it's also about the illegal substances 
we're dealing with, too," she said, noting that the board has invited the 
Maine State Police to return to town again during the festival.
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