Seattle’s 22nd annual Hempfest takes place in Myrtle Edwards park near Belltown this Friday afternoon through Sunday. And times have certainly changed. Initiative 502 has legalized recreational marijuana in Washington. But Hempfest founders say as long as marijuana is illegal under federal law, their festival will still focus on changing drug laws.
Initiative 502, which took effect in December 2012, decriminalizes the production of hemp in Washington state, though it remains illegal under federal law.
Hemp production has deep roots in the early colonial United States. In fact, the Virginia colony required that hemp be grown by farmers to produce rope. Benjamin Franklin started a hemp paper mill to avoid importing paper from Great Britain. One particularly important document did not utilize paper at all, but hemp instead: the Declaration of Independence.