Weedstock 2018 to raise awareness of cannabis laws

Organizers agree there is a stigma around marijuana that does not exist around alcohol consumption



Dax Taylor, right, president and creator of 420 Union, and Karl Howell, music and merchandise manager of Weedstock, talk about the hardships they faced while creating the event and what to expect this coming weekend.

GABRIELLA RAMOS, Evergreen mint editor

Dax Taylor sat in the Colfax Courthouse on Jan. 3, 2013, the year after recreational marijuana use became legal in Washington for people older than 21. Much to his relief, as the judge entered the room he said, “If you’re here for under an ounce of marijuana, you need to get up and walk out, I’ve already thrown away your paperwork.”

With a new baby at home, Taylor recognized that he had no room in his life to get in trouble for marijuana. Seeing this as an opportunity to help other cannabis enthusiasts, he formed the 420 Union, a group that represents people who support the cannabis industry. This includes, but is not exclusive to, cannabis processors, growers and distributors.

Taylor said he was bummed for 4/20 this year because of the lack of events scheduled for legal smokers to attend. Out of this frustration, he recruited Music and Merchandising Manager Karl Howell and Assistant Event Coordinator  Megan Sanders to help him plan Weedstock 2018.

“We decided that Pullman deserves to have an event this size,” Howell said.

Taylor explained that they designed the event to be smoking-friendly after doing research on the local marijuana ordinances and battling with the Whitman County Board of Commissioners over the legality of such an event. He said the board has decided the organizers are following the county ordinances, and a few board members may even attend Weedstock.

“I have had to research the laws more in the last three weeks than I have in my entire life,” Taylor said.

Because it is illegal to smoke marijuana in public, he rented private property from a local landowner to hold the event.

“If we’re not in the public eye,” Taylor said, “we are completely legal to smoke.”

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported that this may not be enough because the event has been publically advertised, according to Mikhail Carpenter, Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board spokesperson.

Taylor posted on Facebook on Wednesday night addressing these concerns and calling this a “scare tactic.”

To acquire an event permit in Whitman County, an event must host more than 250 people. Taylor said they are expecting between 2,000 and 2,500 people to attend Weedstock but have room for 10,000.

Beyond offering attendees the opportunity to camp for free and experience live music, Weedstock 2018 will host marijuana activists and speakers to educate spectators on their rights as cannabis consumers, Taylor said.

He said Kevin Oliver, co-founder of Washington’s Finest Cannabis, and Steve Porter of Hells Canyon Cannabis will discuss the business side of the marijuana industry, while women’s activist Grandma Cat will share the history of cannabis activism. WSU researcher Carrie Cutler will also be in attendance to talk about the cognitive effects of cannabis on the brain.

Taylor, Howell and Sanders agree there is a societal stigma around marijuana consumption that does not exist around alcohol, although the substances are regulated under similar laws. The organizers hope to challenge those misconceptions through the demonstrations and educational speakers who will attend Weedstock.

“If you want me to be completely blunt with you,” Howell chuckled, “people who are spooked out about this need to do their research.”

Howell said it is the Weedstock organizers’ goal to get the community involved in the event by either vending or performing. For this reason, he reached out to local bands to perform on one of the two stages at Weedstock.

He said one stage will exclusively feature rock artists, while the other will host hip-hop artists. Performers include Silent Theory, Heart Avail and Unconfined on the rock stage, and State of Krisis, J Msp Chavez and Rush Wun on the hip-hop stage.

“We’re trying to make this inclusive,” Howell said. “What we’re trying to bring for the music is diversity of sound, diversity of artists.”

Taylor said 10 to 15 percent of the proceeds from Weedstock will go to the Whitman County Humane Society in the form of pet food. There will also be a demonstration by Lucy the Canna-dog, who administers CBD oil to children with epilepsy or seizure disorders.

In addition to performances and vendors, the Weedstock team has organized a VIP camping area for Friday night. By paying $10, attendees will have access to a 100-instrument drum circle and other live demonstrations.

Taylor said the VIP tent will also include a weed cannon, a glass tube that holds one pound of marijuana and is attached to a leaf blower. One end will be torched while the leaf blower blows the smoke into the tent, he said.

Weedstock begins at 2 p.m. Friday. The event will be held on property two miles past Klemgard Park on Highway 270 between Pullman and Colfax. Howell said it is about a 10-minute drive from Pullman. Taylor also said there will be ProCabs and College Cabs at the event to drive attendees back into town throughout the night.

Attendees will be required to sign a waiver that states they are part of the 420 Union after liking the group’s page on Facebook. The waiver also states that any property that is damaged is the responsibility of the perpetrator.

While admission to Weedstock is free, 420 Union will be accepting donations to help with expenses. No one under the age of 21 will be admitted, and IDs will be checked at the door. Alcohol will not be served at the event, but Taylor said attendees are welcome to bring their own.

Following the event on Sunday, 420 Union will be cleaning up the property and planting trees in honor of Earth Day. Cleanup will take place from 5 – 7 p.m.

“Let’s normalize cannabis like everybody did alcohol,” Sanders said.