Pubdate: Fri, 07 Aug 2015
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2015 The Oregonian
Author: Andrew Theen


Paul Stanford, organizer of the Hempstalk festival, has one message 
for the Portland City Council: "We will never surrender."

Portland parks officials denied Hempstalk, the free marijuana and 
hemp festival that celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, a 
permit for its 2015 waterfront event last November.

In three weeks, Stanford and his supporters will once again be back 
for another appeal hearing before the City Council. It's the latest 
development in a strange saga that dates back to the fall of 2013 
when parks and police officials documented "demonstrated inability" 
to control drug use and behavior at prior festivals.

Any appeal of a parks permitting decision making its way to a City 
Council hearing is unusual, but two hearings in consecutive years is 
downright peculiar.

City officials mailed the denial noticed one day after Oregonians 
voted to legalize recreational marijuana sales. It was the second 
denial for Stanford in as many years.

As in previous years, the dispute centers on the public consumption 
of marijuana at the festival.

In 2014, Stanford said Hempstalk would be the only place in Portland 
where marijuana wasn't consumed on that day. "We did everything that 
we could to curtail marijuana smoking," Stanford said this week. "The 
city is being dishonest and for some reason they have something 
against me personally."

After much hand-wringing, the parks bureau granted Stanford a permit 
for a festival at Tom McCall Waterfront Park days before the 
September event. Months before, Mayor Charlie Hales said if the 
festival should exist, it belongs at the downtown landmark. City 
approval came with a slew of requirements that the festival 
organizers check bags, add security and generally police behavior, 
and marijuana consumption, at the event.

Stanford said he did all those things, and more.

"The city parks and police people are blatantly lying and that's 
going to come out in this hearing," he said, adding that the city 
cost him $55,000 in added security and event costs last year.

Shawn Rogers, parks customer service manager, said Hempstalk 
continues to not live up to its promises.

Rogers told The Oregonian that he swung by the festival last 
September to check out the scene. He said he heard speakers from the 
main stage tell attendees to go outside the gates to consume 
marijuana. They did.

"I actually felt like I was at risk of getting high," Rogers said at 
the time. "It was pretty intense.

Rogers said they did all they could to help the beleaguered festival 
succeed, and it's still not enough. It's a simple matter, he said. 
"We can't trust that you will stay within the guidelines and laws 
presented within the permit."

Stanford said there's an unfair double standard being applied to his 
event. He noted the hypocrisy of Portland Police declaring in media 
reports prior to the Waterfront Blues Festival that officers wouldn't 
issue citations to festival goers spotted smoking pot.

Hempstalk first took its appeal to Multnomah County Circuit Court, 
but ultimately lost that ruling a month ago.

The City Council hearing is Aug. 27 at 2 p.m.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom