Pubdate: Wed, 09 Jun 2010
Source: Red Bluff Daily News (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Red Bluff Daily News


The World Hemp Expo Extravaganja, held May 28-30 in Red Bluff, has 
certainly created a buzz - pardon the expression.

Emotions run high on both sides of the fence, so we wanted to take a 
look at what took place and what the lasting effects of the event 
mean to our community.

While we don't endorse the expo, we note that predictions of 
violence, vandalism and other illegal activity did not come to fruition.

In fact, aside from some shoplifting reported by vendors the first 
day of the festival, the only confirmed criminal activity in 
conjunction with the festival was vandalism of a water tank in the 
days before it began - presumably by those attempting to sabotage the festival.

We thank festival organizers, the county and law enforcement for 
working together to prevent problems and ensure participants their 
constitutional right to assemble peacefully. For the most part, 
organizers complied with the provisions of their permit and no major 
incidents took place.

To those who suggest Red Bluff will be forever branded as a pot city, 
don't sell our town short. Coming up on 90 years of Round-Up and 
ranching tradition, beautifully restored Victorian structures, a 
vibrant art scene and access to wilderness recreation are just a few 
of the things for which Red Bluff is known. We don't think there's 
much danger that a three-day festival can supplant that reputation.

At the same time, we have some suggestions in the event organizers 
wish to hold another such expo in Tehama County.

First, be honest with the community and yourselves. This event was 
nothing more than a multi-day, outdoor concert at which marijuana use 
was prevalent. Anyone that truly believes the event focused on 
medicine or medical treatment is welcome to take a look at a bridge 
we have for sale.

Second, pick a more appropriate weekend. While the festival wrapped 
up the day before Memorial Day, holding such an event so close to the 
day the community honors the nation's war dead is insensitive at 
best, bordering on insulting.

Third, choose a better location. Gathering thousands of people, loud 
music and a cloud of smoke across the street from people's homes for 
three days in an otherwise quite residential area is not fair to 
neighbors - many of whom were tied to their property for the holiday 
weekend, uncertain what to expect with large crowds in close proximity.

Tehama County has an excellent fairground designed to handle crowds. 
Folks who purchased or rented homes nearby did so knowing to expect 
crowds and some noise from time to time.

Finally, and most importantly, bar entrance to anyone under the age 
of 18. A concert full of marijuana smoke is no place for children, 
including some infants seen at the festival. If you enjoy such 
activities and are consenting adults, go for it. But don't force 
potentially unhealthy and even dangerous conditions on your children.

The state says you can't take your child to a bar or smoke a 
cigarette when your child is in your car. Surely Tehama County has 
every right to bar children from a marijuana festival.

We're glad the expo came and went without incident and we understand 
why so many in the community were upset by it. But if it is to happen 
again, a little planning and a few changes can help minimize the 
negative reaction and make the event less polarizing.

What do you think?

Let us know
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