Boise’s inaugural Hempfest, held in Julia Davis Park on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., drew plenty of marijuana enthusiasts despite the plant’s still-outlawed status in Idaho. The festival, which explicitly banned any actual marijuana, included dozens of vendors, live music and speakers like Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, R-CA.
Event coordinator Serra Frank said her goal was to educate Idahoans about marijuana’s potential benefits in a fun, family-friendly way.
“You only support prohibition until you do that research,” Frank said. “The stigma that currently surrounds marijuana stems from a Reefer Madness propaganda campaign that happened 80 years ago.”
Hempfest featured an “enchanted forest” of informational posters, meant to draw visitors through several displays in order to earn a ticket for a raffle drawing.
“I’m interested in learning about medical uses,” said Barbara Henry, of Caldwell, as she perused one poster. “We have some health issues in our family, and we think opiates are not good.”
The Idaho Medical Marijuana Association set up shop amid tents offering jewelry, tie-dyed T-shirts, information on Libertarian and Green parties and more. Frank said a major focus on the vent was IMMA’s petition to give Idahoans access to the plant for medicinal purposes.
“Definitely I would like to see a medical law passed,” she said. “At the very least, we should be thinking about cancer patients, our epileptic children, and neighbors who need a safe, effective medicine that they’re not finding through pharmaceuticals.”
Many attendees echoed the same sentiment, their spirits not totally dampened by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s recent refusal to remove marijuana from a list of dangerous drugs that includes LSD and heroin.
“It’s nowhere near in that same category,” said attendee Kayla Danielson. “Just use your common sense.”
Other Hempfest-goers said they were disappointed or angered by the DEA decision but, like Frank, they feel Idaho can first focus on updating its marijuana policy to better reflect neighbors like Oregon and Washington that already allow recreational use of the plant.
“ Idaho is an island of prohibition,” Frank said. “We’re all afraid of a stigma on marijuana when our belief on marijuana is creating a stigma on Idaho.”