I recently hit the road to Washington, D.C., to attend the inaugural National Cannabis Policy Summit and the third annual National Cannabis Festival, which took place on 420 at the Newseum and 4/21 at RFK Stadium, respectively.
The festival itself was a lot more upbeat than the policy summit, but like D.C.’s legal weed situation, the festival had logistical issues, including a line that was literally a mile long. The line started at the entrance to RFK Stadium, snaked through an underpass, along a sidewalk and around an entire parking lot. For the majority of the day, there were more people outside, waiting patiently to get in, than inside. I witnessed some would-be revelers balk at the length of the line and turn back.
The line-up at this year’s National Cannabis Festival concert featured a headlining performance by hip-hop royalty Cypress Hill. The concert also featured reggae artists See-I, D.C. legends Backyard Band, hot up-and-coming artist Beau Young Prince, DJ Ayes Cold, and local favorites Oh He Dead, Names and MARLEE. The concert was hosted by D.C.-favorites Samy K. and Reesa Renee.
— National Cannabis Festival (@NatlCannaFest) April 28, 2018
Local D.C.-based cover band See-I — which features some contributing members of Thievery Corporation — perked up the crowd around 4 p.m. and managed to lure festival-goers from the on-site vendors, who ensnared people with wheels of fortune that contained ganja giveaways.
Cypress Hill flew into D.C. that day on a red-eye flight from High Times’ dry 420 event (they didn’t get a permit in time, so there weren’t any cannabis vendors allowed) and soon clouded out the atmosphere. Their tour bus was so thick with smoke that there was an inside joke circulating the crowd about looking for the dragon that produced it. Cypress Hill took the stage around 6:30 p.m. They had the crowd jumping to all of their old-school hits, including “Kill a Man” and “I Love You, Mary Jane.”
The laid-back vibe on the lawn was littered with camping chairs and picnic tables, where everyone was rolling or smoking in plain sight. Everywhere you walked, the smell of weed was in the air.
The ganja goody vendors were interspersed with activists’ tables including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Drug Policy Alliance. The DPA had a stack of printouts that said “The War on Drugs…” and attendees were encouraged to fill in the blank.
The carnival-like atmosphere was enhanced with on-site glass blowers, who were creating bongs and bowls. Dr. Bronner’s, which sponsored the festival, gave away free soap.
Caroline Phillips, who produced the festival, estimated that close to 14,000 people attended.
“The goal of the festival is to celebrate progress on legalization of cannabis in D.C. and around the nation by recognizing the nonprofit advocacy groups that fight for the rights of the cannabis community,” Phillips said. “This year was an especially important year for NCF as we tried to inspire and empower attendees to go to the polls in November and vote.”
TELL US, did you attend the National Cannabis Festival? What did you do on 420?