MEMPHIS, Tennessee – The organizers of the Mid-South Hemp Fest debut would not have wanted more lenient weather or better turnout for their event at Overton Park on Saturday.
The festival, which lasted from 10 am to 5 pm, brought together vendors selling or even selling all kinds of hemp products, such as CBD-infused foods, CBD oil, flowers and more. hemp and utensils for smoking. Lee Otts of the Memphis Chapter of the National Organization for Marijuana Reform (NORML), who planned the event, said the event had far exceeded his expectations.
"Honestly, we expected it to be much smaller," said Otts. "This simply resulted in the biggest cannabis event in many US states. It just shows what people really want and how bad legislation is here in Tennessee. "
A recent legal marijuana medical campaign in the Tennessee Legislature has been suspended until next year, and some other decriminalization efforts have been stalled. A bill proposed by Tennessee representative Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis), aimed at eliminating crime charges for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, failed on April 10.
"You should not imprison people for a factory," said Otts. "It's a racial thing. Minorities are four times more likely to be arrested for cannabis use than non-minorities, despite the same statistical use. It's not fair. "
A bill passed in 2014 in Tennessee authorized possession of hemp if it contained less than 0.3% THC, which is the chemical of marijuana that produces a high feeling. It classifies this type of hemp as an industrial crop rather than a controlled substance.
CBD, the chemical found in marijuana for medical purposes, was also legalized in 2014 in Tennessee for oils intended to be infused into edible products.
Otts said he was injured in the neck a few years ago. He would therefore like the legality of medical care in the state to be expanded to allow people to use more types of products. Following the recent indictment of 60 health professionals across the country as part of a federally-led opioid suppression campaign, including in Memphis, Otts said he hoped people would learn that they could turn to cannabis for the same needs.
"It's them (the doctors who push opioids) who want to control marijuana bills for medical purposes," said Otts.
Arkansas recently legalized the medical use of marijuana for medical purposes, and clinics are expected to open in that state in May, and Otts said acceptance of growing marijuana in a southern state was promising.
This medical use is exactly what the Tennessee laws on hemp and CBD are supposed to help, and hemp manufacturers know it well.
One of the Hemp Fest sellers, Ryan Rush of Rush Hemp Farms in Maryville, Tennessee, offered hemp flowers and 500 bottles of CBD oil to festival visitors. He said his goal was to reach low-income, low-income people and offer them the CBD gift for possible medical problems.
"We do not sell anything," Rush said. "We're just trying to give away products and trying to spread a message that aims to get this plant back into a conversation with as many people as we can."
The bottles contain 1,000 milligrams of CBD oil and cost about $ 100 each at retail, or about $ 50,000 worth of products it has offered all day long. Rush said he was not afraid of losing profit because his goal was to pass the benefits of marijuana for medical purposes to as many people as possible, especially those who need it but can not afford it. .
He said that he was working in construction, but that he is now working in a company that he likes and that can benefit other people. He said that he had different goals from those of most hemp sellers.
"Growing hemp and giving it to disadvantaged people like I did with the health of my family members speaks to me more deeply than money," Rush said. "I love my job."
Otts said he hoped to be able to hold more events like this in the future, because of the success of this 4/20.