Pubdate: Sat, 30 Aug 2008
Source: Olympian, The (WA)
Copyright: 2008 The Olympian
Author: Jeremy Pawloski
Cited: Olympia Hempfest


The State Patrol made 23 arrests during Olympia Hempfest on Aug. 
23-24 -- including 10 misdemeanor marijuana-possession arrests and 
four felony drug arrests, State Patrol Sgt. Ted DeHart said.

DeHart said that by comparison, one person was arrested during this 
year's five-day Lakefair.

"I think there may be a misunderstanding that if you come down to 
Hempfest for two days, it's OK to be smoking marijuana, and that's 
not the case," he said. "We will always enforce the law."

But Hempfest founder and director Jeremy Miller, 36, said that for 
the past two years of the event, the State Patrol sergeant in charge 
of coordinating with Hempfest organizers has been rude and seems to 
be overzealous in his efforts to make arrests.

Miller said Hempfest, held yearly at Heritage Park, promotes all 
aspects of the marijuana plant, including the use of hemp for 
industrial uses and the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. He 
said that while organizers don't promote people breaking the law by 
smoking marijuana during the event, it is a personal choice and a 
victimless crime.

Miller pointed out that if police take a proactive stance during 
Hempfest or any other event on the Capitol Campus, such as Lakefair, 
they'll find people who are breaking the law.

"They're expecting it to be bad, so they find bad," Miller said of 
State Patrol's attitude toward Hempfest.

Miller said he advocates for the legalization of marijuana. "I'm a 
medical patient myself, but my advocacy doesn't stop there."

He said that during Hempfest, he saw a State Patrol officer illegally 
cite a medicinal marijuana patient for misdemeanor marijuana 
possession. He said it is his understanding that people caught by 
police smoking marijuana in general were issued misdemeanor citations 
and were not arrested.

Miller said that in other cities that celebrate Hempfest, such as 
Seattle, police officers make issuing misdemeanor marijuana citations 
a low priority.

DeHart estimated that there were 600 people at Hempfest on Saturday, 
but there were only 150 on Sunday because of the rain. Miller said he 
believes State Patrol is underestimating the number of people who 
were at Hempfest so it will seem like a high percentage of people 
there were charged with crimes by police. Hempfest has occurred 
locally since 2003, Miller added.

DeHart offered the following statistics taken by law enforcement 
agencies during Hempfest:

.  Took two reports of missing juveniles.

.  Made two misdemeanor arrests of juveniles.

.  Issued six infractions for drinking in public.

.  Issued seven trespass warnings.

.  Made two trespass arrests.

.  Made 10 misdemeanor arrests for possession of marijuana.

.  Made four felony drug arrests, including one of a person who had 
more than 40 grams of marijuana and another who had 60 tablets of Ecstasy.

.  Made one arrest for fourth-degree assault, domestic violence.

During 2007's Hempfest, the State Patrol "cited and released 26 
individuals and referred 29 misdemeanor drug charges to the Thurston 
County Prosecutor's Office," according to a State Patrol release 
provided by Miller.
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