Washington's annual Hempfest—a three-day celebration of pot, bongs and hemp bead necklaces that is typically one of Seattle's largest festivals—was uncharacteristically worked up Saturday over what should have been cause for laid-back cheering: a fast-gaining ballot initiative to legalize possession of small quantities of marijuana.
Ballot measures to legalize marijuana are sprinting toward the polls in three Western states in November. Marijuana supporters say Washington's vote on Initiative 502 is important to maintain national momentum on an issue that is beginning to see steady gains in popular support.
But the pro-marijuana community here is deeply divided over the measure. Beneficiaries of the state's medical marijuana law fear that legalizing and regulating pot use would subject pot patients to potential arrest under the measure's strict impaired-driving provisions.