CANNABIS CULTURE – “If you don’t know about hemp, you’re not green,” shouted Vivian McPeak from the stage. “You need to get Greener.” Thus began Greener Fest, held at LA’s Venice Beach on May 15, where scores of colorful tent-covered kiosks greeted a steady stream of hemp enthusiasts in what is becoming a monthly series of huge cannabis confabs.
The festival was billed as returning to hemp rather than medical marijuana, partly in honor of Jack Herer, who petitioned for years at Venice Beach and died one month before the event. Although many of the booths at Greener Fest offered medical services, there was a greater diversity than at recent shows, including hemp clothing and body care products. The breezy outdoor venue was a nice change from stuffy convention centers, with the added benefit of some groovy music: Mitch Margo of The Tokens performed their hit “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and it seemed Jimi Hendrix had magically appeared when his brother Leon performed with Anthony Aquarius Mystery.
McPeak, an organizer for the huge Seattle Hempfest, which annually stretches seemingly for miles along the Seattle shoreline, predicted similar things for Greener Fest. He brought Seattle-style weather with him, with clouds covering the hint of sunshine the morning saw for most of the afternoon (which must have made the OG Girls awfully chilly, but they never complained). A good time was, apparently, had by all.
Guest of honor George Clayton Johnson, author of Logan’s Run and Oceans 11, plus several Star Trek and Twilight Zone episodes, reminded the crowd that “Hemp Can STILL Save the Planet,” but warned that “the window is closing, unless we reorder our priorities.”
Hemp’s only problem is that it’s too perfect, said Johnson. On top of all its benefits to mankind, it also serves as a “mild euphoriant,” causing it to be vilified as marijuana. Extolling hemp’s virtues as a source of food and shelter, he added, “And it reconciles us with the universe.”
Johnson, who ought to know, called Herer a science-fiction character. Asked about the comment afterwards, Johnson said, “It’s really a sci-fi story about the plant. It’s the Tree of Life that mankind has discovered again and again, all the way up until Jack found it. That’s why he called his book The Emperor Wears No Clothes; he really saw himself as that boy in the story.”
On hand was Herer’s son Dan, who printed up memorial T-shirts for the occasion, one depicting Jack as Forrest Gump, sitting on a bench with a hemp stalk sticking out of the box on his lap. “Saving the earth, one plant at a time,” it said. Another, captioned, “Let My People Grow,” had Jack facing his beloved Pacific Ocean. All proceeds went to The Jack Herer Medical and Memorial Fund. Jack’s work will live on in The California Cannabis Hemp & Health Initiative 2012, an effort starting this November, aiming for the Nov. 2012 ballot. Even if TaxCannabis 2010 passes this year, CHI as currently written would greatly expand on that law.
As I left, I noticed the flags at the beach Police Station were flying at half mast. The officer inside said the tribute was for William Elkins Jr., an aide to former LA Mayor Tom Bradley. But it served double duty that day.
Info at www.GreenerFest.com.