PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland City Council overruled a city department and approved a permit for the controversial Hemptstalk Festival at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. But, city hall and the parks department are still figuring out how to regulate the event.
The event will be held October 17 and 18, despite claims from the parks department about drug sales and use at last year’s event. The parks department claimed event organizers knew about the illegal activities and didn’t stop them.
“The city officials who said we didn’t were being dishonest. We did do it and I don’t see how they could possibly say we didn’t,” said Paul Stanford, Hempstalk Festival organizer.
That is why the parks department denied this year’s permit, because of claims event organizers didn’t follow the rules. But last week, city commissioners voted to give the festival another chance.
“What I finally decided was to take a leap of faith,” Commissioner Nick Fish told KOIN 6 News. “There just wasn’t enough evidence that the organizers breached the agreement or intentionally allowed for rules to be broken.”
Fish said organizers made a commitment to follow the rules.
“We will give them another year but we will closely monitor and we expect them to follow all the rules so this is a family friendly event and it is safe for all who attend.”
The city and festival organizers don’t agree on everything, though. Stanford said he still wants to allow marijuana smoking, even though pot can’t be smoked in public and smoking of all kinds is banned in city parks.
“So, we take down the fence from our entire event but have special fenced, adult only smoking areas where we are checking the cards of people going in, that’s something we’d like to do.” Stanford admits the city hasn’t been receptive of that.
“We will ban smoking at our event if we are forced to do that. Like I said, it’s unpleasant but if that is what they will require us to do we can do it.”
Stanford said by the time the event is held, mid-October, marijuana can be legally purchased at dispensaries, which leads him to believe there will be less incentive to buy or sell at the event.