Source: The Bangor Daily News (ME) Contact: http://www.bangornews.com/ Pubdate: Thursday, 13 Aug 1998 Author: Brenda Seekins, NEWS Staff HEMPSTOCK BEGINS 4 DAYS OF MUSIC, FOOD STARKS - The eighth annual Hempstock festival with the Maine Vocals as hosts begins today with celebration, music and food at Harry Brown's farm in Starks. More than 8,000 fans are expected to descend on the Somerset County town in support of legalized marijuana. More than 30 bands are scheduled to play over the four-day event, according to Maine Vocals founder Don Christen. Many of the groups are donating their time to help raise funds for the effort to repeal marijuana prohibition, he said. The program also includes hemp activist speakers and vendors offering crafts, jewelry and clothing. Many of the products are made from the cannabis-marijuana plant. Tickets this year are $25 in advance, $30 at the gate. Tickets will be limited to 1,950 for on-site camping, first come, first served. The ticket numbers are limited to comply with the state's mass gathering laws. Off-site camping is available at other private locations in Starks, Christen said. A $25 pass is available for off-site campers for weekend attendance. Otherwise, tickets are $10 per day and can be purchased at the gate. It's the second year that Hempstock has been held at the same time as the Phish concert in Aroostook County. "Phish has their crowd, and they're actually behind us," he said. "But they're making money. We're trying to do something." The weekend celebration also will kick off a renewed petition drive to legalize marijuana for unlimited medical use. The current law makes criminals out of people before they ever harvest their product, Christen said. With the Maine Vocals proposal, there would be no limits on the amount a patient could grow. Patients using marijuana for medical purposes now are forced to find it on the black market, he said. The Vocals also would like to see the law allow providers. With the current law, people can be prosecuted if they give or sell it to someone else. Christen hopes the new petition will not confuse people as another group did recently with a more restrictive medical marijuana law. "We have adequate laws. This just takes it out of the hands of law enforcement and puts it in the hands of doctors and patients," Christen said Wednesday. Maine Vocals also would like to legalize marijuana for anyone 18 and older with some regulation. "It's not much different than alcohol. It's not for everybody, but neither is alcohol," he said. Brown's 5 acres are sufficient to hold the annual gathering for now, he said. "Expansion is always possible in the future," he said. Christen said more people in Starks and the surrounding area are beginning to capitalize on the thousands of people trekking through their town. A lawn sale has been planned, and one woman is offering her property for parking and operating a shuttle to the event. Other people also appear to be creating temporary camping or parking sites, he said. "I expect people will stop their bigoted ways and support us," Christen said of the continuing growth of the event, and the local people benefiting from it. "The money is still green," he added. - --- Checked-by: "Don Beck"