Legalizing marijuana is a hotly discussed issue at Seattle's Hempfest, but there is likely to be extra conversation this year as it will soon be up to voters to decide.
The 21st annual Hempfest takes place this weekend. The festival of vendors and entertainment draws thousands of people each year to Myrtle Edwards Park on the Seattle waterfront.
Faces behind Washington's marijuana legalization effort, I-502, are scheduled to speak, including campaign director Alison Holcomb and well-known travel show host Rick Steves. State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D) of Seattle and State Rep. Roger Goodman (D) of Kirkland will also join discussions.
Opponents of I-502 will also be at the festival, making their case to voters. Hempfest organizers, however, have elected to remain neutral on the issue, the Seattle Times reports.
Washington voters will decide on I-502 this November. If approved, it would create a system of state-licensed growers and stores, and impose a 25 percent tax at each stage. Those over 21 could buy up to one ounce of dried marijuana; one pound of a solid, marijuana-infused product; or 72 ounces of marijuana-infused liquids.
Critics argue the initiative conflicts with federal law, works against medicinal users, and could cause an increase in the number of DUI drivers on the road.
Politicians have become more comfortable with talking to voters at Hempfest in recent years. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio spoke at the festival last year.
Hempfest is free to attend. It opens Friday at noon and runs until 8:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Hempfest is open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.