Hempfest Sues City


Hempfest, the multi-day, pro-marijuana festival that annually brings tens of thousands of people to a waterfront Seattle park, has sued the city in an effort to obtain permits for the 2011 gathering.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court, Seattle Events, the group behind Hempfest, says it has been denied permission to stage this year’s festival at Seattle Center. Last year city officials asked organizers to look for locations other than their usual spot, Myrtle Edwards Park. Hempfest said it has asked for permits to conduct the 2011 edition at either Seattle Center or the park.

City officials denied the request for Seattle Center and say a major construction project scheduled for Myrtle Edwards later this year “jeopardizes” the possibility that the festival could be held at Myrtle Edwards in late August, its usual time, according to the lawsuit.

The legal action is an attempt to force Seattle to process the group’s application for a special event permit at either of the two locations. The lawsuit alleges that the city has scheduled the Myrtle Edwards construction specifically to conflict with Hempfest and, by doing so, violate the organizers constitutional rights of freedom of expression and assembly.