Seattle Hempfest organizers ejected a man from their festival yesterday who was trying to break the record for the world's largest joint. As you can see in this video that I shot, Hempfest security called in multiple law enforcement agencies to evict the man—who only had a 20-foot-piece of paper and planned to invite people to chip in a gram of pot—as Hempfest staff claimed that the man was attempting to commit a federal felony.
Brian Laoruangroch (pronounced Loren-roach, "my friends all call me Roach," he told me) was inspired by other massive doobies, including several seen at Hempfest, and a two-pound joint confiscated at a 4/20 rally in Santa Cruz earlier this year.
Laoruangroch hopes to start a legal pot business focused on branding. He announced his plans on Facebook and quickly caught the ire of Hempfest CEO John Davis, himself part of the most prolific legal pot branding business in town, Diego Pellicer. Davis posted several comments on the World's Largest Joint Facebook page:
John Davis: "Seattle Company set to piss off reform movement permanently." Garner media, yo!
John Davis: Don't step on our message amateur. We will see you at 2. We want to meet. It might be a very short meeting.
John Davis: Did you talk to the event organizers about this?
Prohibition Brands: "I will be wearing the cowboy hat! I will have no more than the legal limit on me John. Any joint smoked will be moved outside the park if we are asked to. The joint will have an ownership tag identifying the names, phone numbers and email addresses of the owners.....so no one person owns this joint. We hope you will be part of the event."
Which earned this response:
John Davis: I will. I will personally be looking for you. Thank you for identifying yourself so well.
Davis followed through on his promise, as Hempfest security volunteers kicked into high fear upon hearing that the "World's Largest Joint guy" had entered the park. Security personal explained that the man—who carried little more than a twenty-foot sheet of paper—was intending to violate the federal RICO act, inciting festival attendees, and costing the event money for his unwillingness to purchase a vendor booth or otherwise fund the increasingly expensive event.
Lead security staff from Seattle Hempfest—who were provided with actual metal badges this year—walked backwards in front of the would-be joint roller for much of the park, criticizing him for crashing their Hempfest with unauthorized pot smoking, and occasionally running into other pedestrians. When Laoruangroch reached his joint-rolling destination, Hempfest security forewarned a mellow, sun-soaked crowd that Laoruangroch intended to violate federal law:
Security Guard Dave Dammit: "Hey guys, I just want you to know that this guy is about to commit a federal crime, and if you engage with him, you guys may very well be culpable. If you look over there, the federal police and the Port of Seattle police have a large tower cam pointed right at us. Turn around and go ahead and look at it. This guy's kinda trying to hijack our event, so make your own choice, folks."
Hempfest General Manager Sharon Whitson arrived on the scene and had this to say:
GM Sharon Whitson: "I'm just letting you know, it's not Felony Fest. We break ground, not law, and what you're doing is counterproductive to our attempt to legalize and normalize cannabis. We understand. It doesn't matter, what you're doing is sensationalism, and I get that you're into activism and that you're trying to find your voice. But we have to preserve our permit and we can't allow the law to be broken on site. SPD is en route right now. I'm letting you know. I'm not into people getting arrested for marijuana. It's the last thing I want to happen, okay?"
Seattle Port Police arrived on the scene and had a mellow conversation with the giant joint planner, who explained his idea in detail. An unidentified officer said:
Seattle Port Police: "Here's the deal. If the organizers say they don't want you here, then we're gonna remove you. Okay? We're gonna hope that you cooperate. We don't wanna bring unnecessary tension to this event. So, if they're gonna ask you to leave, then we're gonna ask you to leave, and it'll be trespass. This is a private event, okay? And if you're unwelcome, they can ask you to leave and then we're gonna have to escort you off the premises, okay?
Laoruangroch ask police if it would be okay to roll his joint outside the Hempfest gates. The officer responded:
Seattle Port Police: "If you're outside this Hempfest, it sounds lto me like what you're articulating would be within the limits of the agreement."
Police escorted Laoruangroch through a private security area to a place just outside the park where they said he could roll his giant joint. The effervescent doobie builder worked to convince passers by to join his joint project, but realized it would be "a lot harder" to succeed in his reefer-building plan after being removed from the Seattle park.
And here's video of Hempfest vounteer Dave Dammit initially stopping Laoruangroch: