On April 23, 2016, National Cannabis Festival will celebrate legalization progress in Washington, D.C., at RFK Stadium from 12-8 p.m, with a day full of music, policy, advocacy, education and entrepreneurship.
“We hope to establish the festival as an annual event convening activists, advocates, business leaders and enthusiasts to celebrate progress on cannabis legalization across the nation,” said Caroline Phillips, founder and co-chair of National Cannabis Festival.
“We want to create an event, in the home of policy and politics, that captures the spirit of the cannabis movement and provides a platform to recognize the activists and non-profit advocacy groups that have dedicated decades of work to ending federal cannabis prohibition,” Phillips said.
Cannabis Calls for Music
With live music throughout the day and hip-hop group De La Soul as the headliner, NCF is incorporating a heavy presence of music as a means of appealing to a larger audience as well as making the festival a celebration of the legalization movement.
“We see NCF as a ‘Rock the Vote’ for the cannabis community. We want this to be a celebration — and what better way to celebrate than with a day of great music?” Phillips stated.
“We also want to use elements like the concert to draw in enthusiasts who may otherwise not have the opportunity to engage with non-profit advocacy groups. If even one person leaves NCF knowing the name or mission of a group that they previously hadn’t heard of before, then that’s progress.”
Beyond music as the festival’s muse, NCF has a steering committee that embodies the many facets of legalization.
According to Phillips, “The diversity in professions/backgrounds on our steering committee reflects the broad support that medical and recreational cannabis legalization received in D.C. Some business owners are on the committee because they own cannabis businesses, others are on the committee because they recognize the important social and economic impact of changing D.C.’s cannabis laws.”
While the steering committee oversaw the operational elements of the event, NCF has also received support from local community members.
“The support we have received from the entire DC community has been tremendous. We would not be where we are today without the donated time, ideas, introductions and good will of the business and advocacy communities,” Phillips added.
Exisiting in Legalization Limbo
The business community isn’t currently permitted to make retail cannabis transactions, so NCF is more of a cannabis-themed event than an official cannabis consumption event, especially considering the Council of the District of Columbia recently banned public consumption and private cannabis clubs.
With the District existing in retail legalization limbo, NCF faced skepticism from local officials in the beginning and difficulties in securing a legal location to host the festival.
“We faced a good amount of initial skepticism when we first set out to find a venue for the event. As well as skepticism, we had the challenge of trying to find property on non-federal land that would be large enough for the festival crowd,” Phillips explained.
NCF was able to surmount these issues by harnessing its role as advocate.
“Since finding the venue we haven’t faced much push-back. I believe that DC officials understand that cannabis-themed events will be coming to the city and I think they appreciate our advocacy-minded approach.”
In hopes of putting on a successful event, NCF has also fostered a relationship with local law enforcement.
According to Phillips, “Law enforcement has been accessible and open to meeting with us. We plan to meet with them ahead of the festival to discuss our vision for the event and talk through their concerns. We see them as partners, not the opposition.”
As a means of capturing the music, policy, advocacy, education and entrepreneurship that takes place on April 23, National Cannabis Festival encourage attendees to use #420three and #natlcannafest when sharing posts from the festival on social media.