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Matt Lemmon

The 25th annual Seattle Hempfest — the world’s largest “protestival” and inspiration for cannabis celebrations around the world — is only a few short weeks away. Starting August 19 and extending through August 21, Hempfest 2016 promises to be a cannabis extravaganza of truly epic proportions.

Ganjapreneur recently caught up with Sharon Witson, Hempfest’s General Manager, who explained that this year’s event has been made possible thanks to more than 1,000 volunteers who will be working 1,800 shifts throughout 10 days on site.

“Hempfest is a passion and a family,” said Witson. “It’s easy to get caught up in the emotion and soul that goes into producing it.”

Hempfest’s origins as a “protestival” — originally formed against the Drug War and prohibition of cannabis — might seem outdated to some, especially considering that Washington was among the earliest states to legalize recreational marijuana. However, most cannabis enthusiasts are well aware that the battle for normalization is far from over, and Hempfest is an important venue for the spreading of knowledge, acceptance, and the vastly unique culture of cannabis. Plus, they have good music, food, cool products, and fun vibes.

“There is nothing like Seattle Hempfest,” said Witson. “We are the world’s largest annual free speech event. We’re also the Pacific Northwest’s largest free music festival. We have 120 bands on our six stages that play between our amazing speaker lineup.”

But the event offers more than just free music and free speech:

“We create a beautiful platform for activists to educate the public each year. We’re empowering people and giving them the ability to expand their reach and make a difference in the world. We have moms like Megan Holt and Sierra Riddle, who are using cannabis to cure their children; world class cultivators like Farmer Tom and Ed Rosenthal; cannabis business pioneers like AC Braddock, Crystal Oliver, and Aimee Warner; medical professionals like Dr. Bearman and Nurse Heather Manus.”

Former inmates Jeff Mizanskey and George Martorano, both of whom were released last fall from federal prison sentences of life without parole for cannabis, will also be speaking, Witson said.

While attendance to the event is free, there are event sponsorship packages available for companies involved in the cannabis industry. These sponsorships are both a way to show support to Hempfest — the longest-running cannabis celebration in the world — and to secure truly widespread exposure for your company or brand, as attendees and journalists will be traveling from around the world to witness and partake in the enormous festival.

“We live in pioneering times,” said Witson. “We want to see strong Washington brands emerge as legalization spreads across the nation and eventually the world!”

If you’re attending this year’s Hempfest, keep an eye out for the Ganjapreneur team — we’ll be there, and we love opportunities to meet our audience face-to-face, so stop by and say hello!

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