Long Lines as People Attend Oakland Marijuana Fair

A marijuana street fair being held in downtown Oakland turned out to be a popular destination this weekend, with people waiting in long lines to attend the event.

The two-day International Cannabis and Hemp Expo was being held Saturday and Sunday over several blocks in the city's downtown, directly outside Oakland City Hall.

Besides vendors, speakers, music and other offerings, organizers say the event also includes a designated area in front of City Hall where those with a valid medical cannabis card will be able to smoke marijuana, organizers said.

Organizers were calling the designated area the "215 area," a reference to Proposition 215, the 1996 state ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana use in California.

"Patients need to take their medicine when they need to," Kim Cue, a Berkeley resident who is chief executive of the International Cannabis & Hemp Expo, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Being a patient myself, that's something that's mandatory."

Oakland is known for its marijuana-related businesses, including a section of city nearby known as Oaksterdam, so-named because of its abundance of marijuana dispensaries.

City voters in 2004 also voted in favor of Measure Z, a measure that made possession of small amounts of marijuana the lowest priority for police.

Still, even with Oakland's stance toward medicinal marijuana use, city officials didn't want the media taking photographs or shooting video of people smoking marijuana outside of City Hall.

KTVU-TV showed what appeared to be an Oakland official instructing the media not to take photos of people smoking in front of City Hall.

The official was not identified, but Arturo Sanchez, an assistant to the city administrator told the station, "it's not that we don't want the picture, we try to keep this area of City Hall, (and) this public park free of smoke."

The fair was open to adults only. Organizers had said previously that they expected about 20,000 people to attend.

- Article from The Sacramento Bee.

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