Saturday, December 8, 2012

Hempfest Staff Celebration - Marijuana Legalization Day

Well, I came back from Europe to see President Obama reelected, a good number of the tea-party crazies removed, gay marriage make a huge leap forward across the country, and two states legalize marijuana. To me, it's not a matter of politics, I'm just so proud of my country for doing the right thing.

Anyone who knows me know that I think pot and hemp should be legal - from a purely common-sense point of view, it's never made any sense to me that alcohol was legal and marijuana wasn't. Alcohol kills people and feeds into all sorts of societal problems, pot doesn't; or at least not nearly to the same extent. It doesn't cause traffic deaths, result in fatal overdoses, incite domestic violence, sexual assaults, and other violent crimes, and public pot-related health costs are eight-times less than alcohol. 

So needless to say, I was proud to be a resident of one of the first two states to legalize it. The law we passed isn't perfect (I have strong personal concerns for medical users, whom I prioritize over recreational users), and there will still be plenty of legal battles to come, but nevertheless, it was a positive step forward and I was so happy to see it happen. 

Hempfest is a non-profit organization that has been promoting and encouraging marijuana reform for more than 20 years. They throw an annual event in Seattle that's attended by hundreds of thousands of people and is one of the events our cops love volunteering most for because of how well our city behaves and how respectful 'Fest-goers are. It is annual living proof that civil disobedience can be respectful, and respected, on both sides, and now... that it can make a difference!

I got involved with Hempfest a year and a half ago, when I was offered a chance to become a staff photographer. Since then I've jumped more and more into it, first shooting in 2011, then helping coordinate the photo staff in 2012, redesigning the website galleries, and now for 2013 I'm running the photography department! It's been an exciting ride so far, and I've absolutely loved being a part of it.

I think photography is a valuable asset to any social movement. You can convey emotions, points of view,  commentary, and an entire message in one picture, one click of a shutter. One single, solitary, fleeting moment in time can say a lot. I'm glad to be able to contribute my time and effort to this one. 

At midnight, December 6th, 2012, our Washington State law legalizing marijuana went into effect, and the emotion that night from the HempFest Staff gathered in front of the new HempFest Office in Seattle was joy. :)

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