What many call the world’s most sophisticated cannabis/reform ‘protestival’ returns to Myrtle Edwards Park and Elliot Bay Park in Seattle Aug. 17-19. Hempfest started in 1991 as the Washington Hemp Expo, held at the much smaller Volunteer Park. Approximately 500 people attended the one-day event that focused on the failed war on drugs, a need for better information, and a chance to have fun. By 2001 the event had grown so much it moved to Myrtle Edwards Park, which provided more space and the opportunity for a third day. Thousands now attend each day, and there are now about 400 arts, crafts, food and informational vendors and more than 100 prominent speakers and marijuana-friendly musicians on four stages. This format will be similar to last year, and scheduled speakers include: • Aaron Pelley, founder of Cultiva Law, a full-service cannabis business law firm, who will speak about federal progress and legal needs. • Nick Mosley, the scientific director at Confidence Analytics in Redmond, Wash., the first lab to start testing cannabis, will share knowledge of its research on cannabinoids and terpenes. • Coltyn Turner, the first pediatric Crohns patient to use cannabis, will share his story of failure with Western medicine, and how he believes cannabis has caused his condition to go into remission for the past four years. • Elvy Musikka, one of four surviving patients enrolled in the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program, will speak about being a medical marijuana patient who receives cannabis from the federal government, which is used to treat glaucoma in her left eye. She was High Times magazine’s 1992 Freedom Fighter of the year. The 27th annual Hempfest will feature dozens of musical acts including Danny Boy, Keith Murray, Tall Paul, Dame Dilla, Rocky Kramer and the legendary British band, The Climax Blues Band. It will include the presentation of local and national Activists of the Year. Washington’s top activist is Danica Noble, director of NORML Women of Washington and a Seattle anti-trust attorney who recognizes the failed war on drugs. The national recipient is Dr. Sunil Aggerwal, a physician and scientist from Seattle who has conducted studies that indicate cannabinoids can kill cancer cells. (Cannabinoids are molecular compounds in cannabis.) Hempfest will also present a Lifetime Achievement award to Jeffery Steinborn, a criminal justice attorney who has devoted 40 years of legal expertise arising from the war on marijuana. Because Hempfest isn’t just about having a good time, there are some serious things going on as well. An ongoing theme is the importance of voting locally and nationally, and encouraging people to register to vote as well. More than 10,000 people have registered at past Hempfests. This year, the Hempfest voter registration crew has teamed up with the Kent Black Action Commission for a summer registration drive to prepare for the November mid-term elections. It will include the 2018 DOPE Industry Awards, presented by DOPE magazine, with the annual ceremony taking place at the Seeley Black Stage from 6-8 p.m. Saturday Aug. 18. Select entertainment will perform Friday night at the onsite VIP Hempfest members party. One new addition this year is locker rental, which means you can safely store any purchases and personal items and still enjoy the party. (Learn more about the lockers at www.hempfest.org/festival/locker-rental/). Organizers do ask, however, that you leave pets at home and do not bring alcohol or fireworks. Camping, unauthorized vending, private sound systems and drones are not allowed. Although HEMPFEST is technically a free event, a $10 donation is suggested. For more info, including an event schedule visit www.hempfest.org.