By Benjie Cooper
YouTube: Lucid’s Vlog
On Saturday, April 1, the fourth Las Vegas Hempfest took place at the Craig Ranch Regional Park. The festival originally began in 2015 and was held at the government building near the Las Vegas strip. It has since found a new permanent home in North Las Vegas. Mayor John Lee and City Council member Isaac Barron were onstage for an evening ceremony in which Barron presented a certificate of appreciation, welcoming the festival to the cannabis-friendly city. He also admonished the crowd for treating the NLV police who were there for the day with the same respect that they were showing. He said, “I want to thank my police for being out here, being cool, and thank you very much for being cool with them as well.”
Throughout cannabis prohibition in America, people have repeatedly called for marijuana to have the same legal treatment as alcohol. That notion came to fruition to a great extent at the recent Hempfest. With the passage of Question 2 by Nevada voters in 2016, recreational cannabis was finally a reality in the Silver State. Cannabis events tend to be age-restricted, but Hempfest has always been an all-ages event. Though this time, legal consumption of the plant was part of the day’s festivities. People have consumed marijuana at previous Hempfest events, with little to no interference by law enforcement, but this was the first time they’ve done it at the festival legally. Attendees consumed marijuana openly in its various smoked, vaporized, and edible forms much in the same way they might freely drink a beer at a state fair, concert, or sporting event.
Even though recreational cannabis is now legal in Nevada, the infrastructure in which the industry will operate is still under construction. Without the proper regulations set in place, recreational marijuana sales are not currently allowed. But giving marijuana away is perfectly acceptable. For the first time in Hempfest’s 4-year history, free dabs were available from some vendors, even as North Las Vegas police officers stood only yards away. Cool, just like Isaac Barron said. During a break between bands in the evening, a drone rained down joints upon the eager festival attendees below. Shortly afterward, a fireworks display lit up the night, much to the surprise and delight of the audience.
Aside from cannabis, live music is the festival’s primary emphasis, and it was heard all day from the main stage. Comedians Medi Mike and Stoner Rob took to the stage between sets to toss out freebies and sling ad-libbed jokes. Layzie Bone from Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, and Lyte entertained the crowd during the evening before the festival’s headliner; Insane Clown Posse took to the stage with their zany antics. From the first creepy clown laugh in the band’s intro, ICP greeted the audience with an intense sensory assault of lights, sound, and a lot of crowd interaction. In addition to the occasional streamers and chicken feathers thrown from the stage by Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope’s posse of masked clowns, fountains of Diet Faygo cola streamed, sprayed, and cascaded endlessly into the crowd from 2-liter bottles, water guns, and buckets throughout the group’s entire set.
As people work to build the legal system for recreational marijuana in Nevada, the North Las Vegas mayor and city council have the right idea. Publicly proclaiming the city to be cannabis friendly and welcoming Hempfest to their city for years to come, they are setting a good example for cities across the country where there are new cannabis laws. The next Hempfest is scheduled to take place sometime in October.