Pubdate: Thu, 15 Apr 2010
Source: Red Bluff Daily News (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Red Bluff Daily News
Author: Geoff Johnson


As Red Bluff gears up for its money maker, the Red  Bluff Round-Up 
Rodeo, local medical marijuana advocates  hope to create another.

Plugging the boat hole Medical marijuana user and  patient advocate 
Donna Will is planning the three-day  World Hemp Expo Extravaganja 
2010 for Memorial Day  weekend on Riverside Avenue, just south of Red 
Bluff at  Red Bank Creek.

Will said she hopes the event will both ease local  tensions over in 
medical marijuana use and bring in  tourist dollars lost from the 
cancellation of the Red  Bluff Nitro Nationals Boat Drag Race.

Last year, when I came home in the middle of June,  there was an 
article in the paper and it said Red Bluff  lost over $500,000 this 
weekend, Will said.

It was devastating to our community to lose that much  money over 
Nitro Nationals, and this is my way of  giving back to the community.

The races depended on Lake Red Bluff, created when the  gates at the 
Red Bluff Diversion Dam are lowered during  irrigation season.

The window for Lake Red Bluff decreased several times  since a 
federal judge determined the dam affects  migrating fish.

The last race was held in 2008.

Will has repeatedly explained her idea for the hemp  festival to the 
Tehama County Board of Supervisors, in  some cases at the same 
meetings at which supervisors  voted to impose restrictions on 
medical marijuana  growth or to ban storefront-style collectives.

Supervisors, faced with  lower property tax revenue and funds 
borrowed by the  state, have announced the need for tourism dollars, 
but  have not publicly encouraged Will. Instead, they have  focused 
on the designation of 17,600 acres overseen by  the Bureau of Land 
Management as National Recreation  Area, an idea that has proven even 
more controversial  than medical marijuana ordinances.

Will sees real potential for bringing in tourist  revenues to the 
county. One of the biggest hemp events,  the Seattle Hempfest, 
attracts as many as 150,000 to  200,000 people a day, she said.

Other first-time events, like the THC Expo 2009 in Los  Angeles, 
attracted around 35,000 people a day, she  said.

Will's own event has attracted the attention of the  magazine High 
Times, which lent the WHEE title. But she  expects attendance to be 
manageable for Red Bluff,  because notice has been short about the event.

Just in case, Will said she has added a gravel lot to  accommodate 
hundreds of cars and is inviting people to  camp over the course of 
the three-day event.

Will said she is withholding the names of certain  musicians because 
announcing them would attract too  large a crowd.

Announced attendees include the Normal Bean Band of  Eugene, Ore., 
and the Jim Miller Band. Manufacturers of  smoking products are 
invited, and smoking will be  permitted.

We're all adults, Will said. I don't go down to the bar  and ask 
people what they're doing, and I don't go down  to the fairgrounds 
and harass people who are drinking.

Alcohol will be prohibited on site during the event,  she said.

High Times Creative Director Steve Hager, who began the  World Hemp 
Extra Extravaganja, said he tried the event  in the late 90s. After 
several years, it was clear it  was not catching on.

There was just so much antagonism toward us, he said. I  don't know why.

Hager said the event would emphasize the spiritual  aspect of 
cannabis, and would be peaceful.

We're not trying to disrupt anybody or cause any  problems, he said. 
We just want to show people that  we're responsible, and that this is 
a legitimate  culture.

Key to the event is a prayer to end the war on drugs,  Hager said.

The war on drugs has been responsible for separating  families and 
paring drug offenders with violent  psychopaths for 10 to 15 years at 
a time, Will said.

This didn't have to happen, he said. We didn't have to  destroy 
people's lives just because they want to use  this plant.

County catch Before anyone pitches a tent on Will's  property, there 
is a catch.

County heads and hands have been working for weeks on  revising 
Chapter 13.12 of the county code, a policy  last updated in 1970 
regulating festivals.

This is an urgency ordinance they're going to be  bringing forward, 
Planner II Bob Halpin said.

Because our current ordinance that regulates festivals,  may not be 
totally constitutional.

Supervisor Ron Warner said the ordinance was drafted in  response to 
Woodstock, and has not been updated since.

Similar ordinances have since been declared  unconstitutional 
elsewhere in the state, but with most  festivals held at the Tehama 
County Fairgrounds, no one  has needed to enforce the ordinance in 
decades, he  said.

County Counsel Arthur Wylene neither confirmed nor  denied the 
existing ordinance's constitutionality.

Wylene said the new ordinance is likely to go before  the Board of 
Supervisors April 27. A copy was not  available to the Daily News 
Tuesday, but Wylene  described the ordinance as content-neutral.

In its current draft, it would kick in when crowds of  500 people or 
more are expected, Wylene said.

The goal is to avoid subjectivity, Wylene said. We  don't want 
anybody to think we're judging events based  on what the nature of 
the event is.

But the final say on what events would be accepted,  including the 
expo, would be up to the Planning  Department.

Planning Director George Robson could not be reached  Tuesday or Wednesday.

One of the ordinance's requirements would be for some  measure of 
security, Wylene said. An event like Will's  could either contract 
with private security or with  local law enforcement.

Events like the Round- Up choose the latter option and  pay for law 
enforcement overtime, Parker said.

If the Sheriff's Department was chosen to serve as  security for the 
event, Parker said deputies would have  no problem issuing citations 
to visitors using  marijuana without a Prop. 215 recommendation. We 
would  enforce all California laws, he said.

Supervisor Bob Williams has said he authored the  county's medical 
marijuana restrictions in the hopes of  protecting neighboring 
citizens from crimes stemming  from marijuana theft.

Asked about the event, Williams said he was less  concerned about 
crime, and more about the traffic  impacts the event would create. 
But he questioned the  choice to set the event in the county.

Personally, I don't think Tehama County is the place  for this, he said.

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World Hemp Expo Extravaganja


May 28-30


22116 Riverside Ave.

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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart