Police Shut Down ‘Paraphernalia’ Vendors at Tacoma Hempfest

CANNABIS CULTURE – In what organizers are calling “an absolute travesty of police fuck-upery”, several glass vendors at the Tacoma Hempfest were shut down and given paraphernalia citations by off-duty police officers hired by the city to work security for park events.

“We’re still just trying to figure out what the hell happened,” Justin Prince, organizer of the 2nd-Annual Tacoma Hempfest, told Cannabis Culture in an interview today.

What started as a peaceful gathering quickly turned into a nightmare when off-duty cops, hired by the city to work all permitted event in local parks in Tacoma, began shutting down vendors, claiming they were selling marijuana paraphernalia.

Police handed out 13 citations to vendors selling glass bong and pipes, hemp products, incense holders and anything with a pot leaf symbol on it. According to Prince, police also took personal property without leaving any kind of receipt or paperwork for the seizure.

Prince says he and his lawyers will be starting legal action against the City of Tacoma and the “rogue” police officer who started the trouble during the June 25 event.

“People worked their butts off for months to make sure there were enough products on hand,” he said, “and then the police just shut them down? You can’t just go do that.”

No arrests were made, but the police presence set a chilling tone and caused a considerable disturbance.

“We had Tribal Police show up [as the park is on Tribal land], who are actually Federal officers,” Prince said. “We got pretty lucky because technically they could have locked everyone in a room and searched everything and anyone who had even a portion of marijuana on them could have been looking at Federal charges. Instead, I talked to them when they came onsite and figured out a workable arrangement. Everyone was kind of able to stay in the hotel and do what they were doing all night and nobody ended up going to jail.”

A “Tacoma Hempfest Green Cup” was scheduled to take place on Saturday night, and many attendees paid $100 for a package that included medical strains to sample and judge. Though some attendees were angry, Prince said he felt it was necessary to cancel the competition and refrain from handing out the samples.

“At that point the Cup changed completely,” he said. “When you are looking at doing Federal time or maybe everybody just relaxing for the night – we were just happy avoiding a lot of legal headaches. If I had showed up expecting one thing and things turned out that way, yeah, I’d be a little upset too, but I’d try to find out what the actual story was.”

Prince said he hoped attendees who paid the $100 would hold on to their tickets, and that he would likely be scheduling a new event to make up for the cancel “Green Cup”.

There were hints of trouble according to Prince, when he received a letter from the police officer in charge of security in the weeks before the event specifically warning that people selling glass and paraphernalia would be targeted by police, but Prince said his lawyers told him things would be fine.

“We were kind of aware the cops were potentially going to have this attitude,” he said, “so we made sure that everybody was prepared to show up and record stuff and take pictures.”

At the 1st-Annual Tacoma Hempfest that took place the year before, police handed out warnings to people lighting up joints, but left the vendors alone.

As for next year, Prince said he has no plans to call off the festival.

“We are absolutely going to do it again next year,” he said.

CC contacted the Tacoma Police Dept. for comment but our calls were not returned by the time of publication of this article.

If you have video clips or pictures of police actions at the Tacoma Hempfest, please send them to [email protected]



  1. Guitarod on

    Freedom is never gained without a fight. This is simple harassment.
    These cops are just following orders from the top. It is kinda stupid that they were dedicating so much energy to peaceful people while gangs & hard drug dealers are out there simultaneously. Wake up America.
    I thought Tacoma was one of the more liberal areas on earth but it has an ugly side. We are no better off in Canada either, with George Bush style drug policies under the Stephen Harper gov’t. Did I forget to mention Reagan & Nixon. Leaders like these guys & their policies are one of the main reasons that most of world hates Americans.

  2. The buoy on

    Sunday was supposed to say saturday

  3. The buoy on

    I arrived in town early Sunday morning to the police pulling me and my crew over and I won’t up going to jail also my booth was the first booth sited at the Tacoma hemp fest but I was in jail still so yes I was arrested I feel because I had a booth at the festival

  4. Anonymous on

    “Selling bongs and pipes is illegal in Canada as well

    This is nothing new. In Chatham Kent Ontario, there is a bi-law against selling bongs, pipes, screens, etc. This Bi-law has been in place for almost ten years. St. Clair Mini Mart in Chatham got fined over 20 grand for selling bongs and pipes. Why are we focusing our legalizing efforts on foreign countries? Lets focus on our own country first.”

    I am in Sarnia and there are 2 shops here and you do not see them
    getting fined for the same shit.

  5. Tacoma Hempfest 2011 on

    Cannabis Culture,

    Thank you so much for shedding light on this important issue. Many personal rights were violated and free trade was restricted on properly permitted businesses. We appreciate your support.

    I would like to comment on the Green Cup event — this was an event planned by a private medical patient who licensed the Tacoma Hempfest brand for the event. You can find the official Tacoma Hempfest statement on this issue, at this link: facebook dot com /permalink.php?story_fbid=236091963086188&id=139140039448048

    Thank you,

    Kevin Heiderich
    Tacoma Hempfest

  6. Dirty Harry on

    Are they going to ban metal spoons as paraphernalia? Heroin addicts use them to heat up their next hit. Look out department stores!

  7. Anonymous on

    I’m just happy to know that Tacoma is crime free so the police could spend their time harassing cannabis dealers

  8. The BallyHoo on

    That Toronto cop excuse thing is wack.
    Toronto pigs get off for everything. One of the MOST corrupt, evil nasty bunch of FUCKING LOSERS, you will ever find. They are here in T.O., dressed in blue. They should ALL be put in jail for contempt of the public, which pays their completely over-blown salaries. They say its a dangerous job, but in Toronto, its no more dangerous than being a window washer. They are a bunch of FUCKING WHINERS & COWARDS. The pigs in Toronto, are the criminals, and ANYONE with a brain knows this. After the G-20 disaster, this city NO LONGER trusts its police, AT ALL!!!!!!!!


  9. The BallyHoo on

    basically nothing, it’s happened to me numerous times. I am not a criminal. Never for pot though, cops in T.O. don’t care about drugs, UNLESS ARE BLACK, then they will put u away. It’s pretty dismall shit here in T.O.


    *FUCK THE PIGS IN TORONTO* (before they fuck you)

  10. Anonymous on

    Bored Cops = Bad cops = a friggin joke.

    The whole prohibition is getting more ridiculous day by day.
    The facts are in, the majority speaks.. YEAH its fucking time to legalize it.

  11. HippieCowboy420 on

    Then they go home and drink alcohol!

  12. CanadianGiant on

    I don,t know what story makes me more angry this morning. Reading about peacefull people being harrassed and ticketed at Hempfest or the story out of Toronto ,where a cop who threatened to taser a man in the nuts, got off because he missed his lunch(low blood suger).Sorry to swear, but Fuck the Police.Free Marc Emery.

  13. DeadBear on

    Next time these idiots start this which used to happen all the time at Dead shows up in Wisconsin in the parking lots. The solution was to have a blanket handy to cover the tables and glass with when the officers walk near. If they cannot see it and they have no warrant or probable cause to search then they cannot lift your personal property off the table without your permission. This was on a commercial property where the state troopers were providing security.
    So all day long it was here they come cover up and as soon as they walked by then uncover and go back to selling………It would be worth a try especially since they are in full uniform and easily spotted.

  14. David on

    The ruining of the Tacoma event is evidence of the police/government war against our culture.
    The same warriors put Tommy Chong in jail for selling glass.
    It is time for our culture to fight back.
    The police are bullies, fascists and worse.
    What do you do when someone is robbing you, beating you, jailing you,
    stomping you down?
    That is the most crucial question you can ask yourself right now.

  15. Jared Stopinski on

    “People worked their butts off for months to make sure there were enough products on hand,” he said, “and then the police just shut them down? You can’t just go do that.”

    “Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.” Ronald Reagan.

  16. ray c on

    I was one of the vendors who had property stolen(for evedence???)at the Tacoma Hempfest. I don’t think you can smoke out of a doob tube, and quite frankly I don’t see how they can call it paraphanalia. I will continue to fight the [email protected]!s, and I hope that collectively, we the people(vendors)will be able to sue the city of Tacoma for their harrassment and loss of wages and all expenses. Doob Tubes carry the state law right on the container. I guess no more right to free speech??? I feel for the people of the great state of Washington to have to live with those kind of officers for protection??? What we really needed was protection from them!!!

  17. Tiger Weedz on

    So far both Tacoma HempFests have been total disasters leading me to agree with the belief that if the state of Washington were to be given an enema it would be delivered through Tacoma. Myself & a few others are spreading the advice that considering the Tacoma Polices fine entraptment scheme being indicative of a shocking level of greed to never spend a cent in Tacoma.

  18. Kenny B on

    This is nothing new. In Chatham Kent Ontario, there is a bi-law against selling bongs, pipes, screens, etc. This Bi-law has been in place for almost ten years. St. Clair Mini Mart in Chatham got fined over 20 grand for selling bongs and pipes. Why are we focusing our legalizing efforts on foreign countries? Lets focus on our own country first.

  19. Anonymous on

    ignorance at it’s finest

  20. Samson on

    Sooo sick and tired of reading stories about the police bothering people who aren’t being bothersome.