Antidrug Activists Try to Shut Down Pot Party

Treatment Professionals Say Celebration at Space Needle Is Bad for Children

Antidrug Activists Try to Shut Down Pot Party
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Three weeks ago, I reported that the Seattle Center issued its first-ever permit for a pot party, which takes place December 6 inside a big tent at the foot of the Space Needle. (Full disclosure: They issued the permit to me.) The story went viral. Jimmy Fallon even joked about it on his TV show, suggesting several stoner Christmas carols we'd be singing.

But some people find no humor in the pot party.

Nine drug-abuse-prevention leaders sent a letter to the Seattle Center, Mayor Mike McGinn, and the Seattle City Council on November 25 demanding the city shut down the celebration, which will mark the one-year anniversary of Washington State's marijuana-legalization law taking effect.

"Not only will this public event be in violation of state law, Seattle Center is a poor location for the party considering it takes place during Winterfest, a family-friendly event," they wrote.

The group includes Richard Catalano, director of a UW research center that will advise the state on drug-prevention grants generated by revenue from pot taxes. They argue that state law bans smoking in "public places," Initiative 502 bans pot use on public property, and pot-tolerant parties should be 1,000 feet from schools and parks.

But these folks are wrong about the facts—and they undermine their own credibility.

The smoking ban applies to buildings, not outdoor smoking areas. The new pot law bans cannabis consumption in public view, not in a private party with ID checks, double fences, and privacy screening. Plus, Seattle Center allows beer gardens, and alcohol is sold at Winterfest.

Not only are these anti-pot leaders total holiday buzzkills, their fearmongering is counterproductive. Exaggerating the harm of drugs has been a tactic used by programs like D.A.R.E. and antidrug commercials, which studies have shown to be ineffective at reducing drug abuse. Even worse, in some cases, they actually made kids distrust their messages and try drugs more.

These treatment professionals are making the same sort of mistakes. By pretending that smoking pot—the same way people drink in a beer garden—is inherently harmful to society, they simply become less trustworthy. And that sort of bullshit is the essence of the drug war that legalization is trying to solve.

I share the goal of keeping drugs away from children, though we disagree on some tactics—like forcing potheads to stay hidden at home and outlawing communal cannabis consumption. Drug-prevention professionals must lead with fact-based strategies that help youth make informed, health-conscious lifestyle choices, and they must let go of assumptions that pot people—and their parties—are anti-family, immoral, or intolerable. recommended


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undead ayn rand 1
"smoking pot—the same way people drink in a beer garden"

How does a beer garden work on public property? Does it count as private space versus consuming beer, openly, on the street?
Posted by undead ayn rand on December 4, 2013 at 11:08 AM · Report this
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Will in Seattle 3
Wait - why are people in school on a day there is no school?
Posted by Will in Seattle on December 4, 2013 at 12:20 PM · Report this
happy Dec 6th 2013 in that pot party !!
Posted by popeteer on December 4, 2013 at 1:49 PM · Report this
I think they were expecting this kind of thing when they legalized. This won't be the last disputable law breaking of this initiative. I'm glad that marijuana users have an ally such as Ben. To face down the ney-sayers. Some people give in to this pressure. Not Ben. Makes me proud to go to a celebration for GOOD people who chose pot as their recreation. Stoners are not bad or scary people because they smoke. I know countless well rounded educated potheads. True burners who smoke everyday. They are not superior or inferior to anyone. They are people like me and you. We should be allowed to gather and enjoy all the festivities this season of red and GREEN offers. So I want to say thank you Ben Livingston for holding it down. Hope I get to shake your hand Friday night. Or maybe match a bowl.
Posted by Jessica S on December 4, 2013 at 6:40 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 6
@5: "I know countless well rounded educated potheads."

There's a reason why the non-Fed tech industry doesn't test.
Posted by undead ayn rand on December 5, 2013 at 2:56 PM · Report this
From the Washington State Liquor Control Board’s website: ‘FAQs on I-502’
Q: The initiative says I cannot consume marijuana in public. What is the definition of “in public?”
A: Initiative 502 states that it is unlawful to open/consume a package of marijuana or marijuana infused product *in view of* the general public. (

Clearly you read the rules and planned your party well.

Just what type of behavior are these fearmongers expecting, anyway? High people assembling peacefully, smiling at each other, interacting respectfully, is surely better than drunks’ idiotic aggression.

Indeed, whoever heard of a stoner starting a fight?

**Marijuana is less bad than alcohol**

I very much agree with you that I-502 and the LCB Rules "forcing potheads to stay hidden at home and outlawing communal cannabis consumption" are flawed – unless one owns one’s own home one has no legal place to get high, and furthermore, one’s home is no place to meet and commune with interesting strangers. Imagine how disappointed all the tourists next summer will be to learn that there are no hash bars, and that they (probably) can't even smoke in their hotels!

I remain thrilled, however, that we took the great leap forward and I am hopeful that together we will continue to tweak the rules and turn Georgetown into little Amsterdam.
Posted by gypsysattva on December 5, 2013 at 9:38 PM · Report this
inquiastador 8
Why can they not just enjoy their smoke inside their homes? I do. I have no inclination to get together with a bunch of stoners and rehash the same tired shit they have all been talking about since the first time they got stoned. I know I cannot be the only one posting here that feels this way since I know so many who do and avoid this stuff like the plague. Then again, maybe it is because we never had problems scoring?
Posted by inquiastador on December 5, 2013 at 10:01 PM · Report this
@8 why? Because they made a historic, huge dent in the draconian drug laws in this country and want to celebrate that with like minded individuals. Wish had something close to what you have where I live.
Posted by orangevening on December 6, 2013 at 10:31 AM · Report this
Probably much less rowdy a crowd than a typical Seahawks game with a bunch of drunk Bellevue cops. It's O.K. to get drunk and stupid when it's a huge money making event like a Seahawks game, but smoke a little weed? All the republicans are fritterpated over this. What a bunch of hypocrites.
Posted by longwayhome on December 6, 2013 at 7:49 PM · Report this

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