Porcia Droubay says that it was around midday on Saturday when Tacoma Police officers started handing out citations. The cops had been contracted to provide


Tacoma Hempfest Vendors Cited for Selling Glass Pipes by the Same Cops They Hired for Security

Porcia Droubay says that it was around midday on Saturday when Tacoma Police officers started handing out citations. The cops had been contracted to provide security for the second annual Tacoma Hempfest, thanks to a $7,000 fee that the event's organizers and vendors paid; but soon after the festival started, as Droubay, an employee of The Green Room in Tacoma, says, the officers were handing out tickets to some of those same vendors.

The crime: Selling pieces of glass, hemp, and other objects that police deemed "drug paraphernalia."

UPDATE: Comments from a vendor and festival organizer Kevin Heiderich added, as well as video footage of the citations being given.

Droubay confirmed to Seattle Weekly other reports in The Seattle Times and the Tacoma News Tribune that TPD handed out a handful of citations to vendors at Hempfest who'd been selling pipes, bongs, and other accessories (which are perfectly legal).

Droubay says the citations weren't limited to sellers of the more classic 420-friendly items, and people were also cited for some things as mundane as an incense holder. "The police weren't just shutting down glass vendors, they were taking people's merchandise--anything that had to do with hemp," she says. "They were making people take their pot leis off, making people take their buttons off. It was a disaster. One guy got ticketed for selling an incense holder."

Seattle Weekly reached out to the man whom Droubay says was cited for incense, and will update when we hear back.

We also tried to reach Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum, who wasn't available.

The Times reports that there may have been some warning given that citations would be handed out to glass sellers. A TPD sergeant supposedly called festival organizer Justin Prince and told them that selling glass pipes and accessories could lead to arrests and citations, but the organizers apparently thought they were covered under their contract with the city.

UPDATE: Despite being cited by the Times and the P-I as a festival organizer, it would appear that Michael Byers is not an organizer.

Considering the multiple metric tons of glass pipes, bongs, and everything else pot-related that's openly for sale at Seattle's much-larger Hempfest, it's easy to see why the the Tacoma festival heads might have expected not to be hassled. After all, the same items were sold at last year's Tacoma Hempfest and no one was cited.

Not to mention glass pipes and smoking accessories are openly sold at head shops in Tacoma.

Droubay, meanwhile, says she and a lot of other folks who participated in the event feel like it was ruined because of the tickets. "I talked to a lot of people and they said they don't even want to come back next year," she says. "It's terrible, because this is usually a great event that people really enjoy."

UPDATE: Nicholas Pouch, a vendor who was selling glassware and other accessories at Tacoma Hempfest tells Seattle Weekly that he had no warning that the police would show up and start ticketing people.

"The cops acted like we were trying to sell crack," Pouch says today. "They were taking [fake] pot-leaf leis, lighters with hemp emblems--anything with a reference to pot, saying these are used for marijuana. They weren't answering questions, they were just ticketing people.."

Festival organizer Kevin Heiderich tells us that he saw someone have a marijuana-rights button taken off their clothing by police and entered into evidence as "drug paraphernalia."

He says that TPD's actions were an "attempt to drive a nail through the heart of our business." But he says he wont let the cops win and will be back next year "bigger and better than ever."

Here are are a couple videos of the police handing out tickets.

Note the 2:40 mark when a female officer confiscates a plastic pot lei.

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