TOWNSEND — Enthusiasts and advocates alike came to Townsend Friday and Saturday for the annual Weedstock festival. However, the two-day event wasn’t just about getting high.
Previously hosted by Delaware NORML, a cannabis advocacy group, Weedstock has become its own organization with sponsorship partners. Held at Firebase Lloyd, home to the Vietnam Vets Motorcycle Club, in Townsend, the weekend featured music, food trucks and vendors selling marijuana-related merchandise.
Rebecca Webster is from Dover and a mother of two. She said cannabis consumption helped her postpartum depression and other medical issues.
“(Delaware legislators) really need to listen to their people and represent their people,” she said. “They should really look at the research of all the good benefits of not only cannabis but also hemp and how it can be made into textiles, and building materials.”
A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders showed that short-term cannabis use can significantly reduce ratings of depression, anxiety and stress. The study said that medical cannabis users perceived a 50% reduction in depression and a 58% reduction in anxiety and stress following cannabis use. Two puffs were sufficient to reduce ratings of depression and anxiety, while 10 or more puffs produced the greatest perceived reductions in stress.
Crystal Keen was a first-time Weedstock attendee from New Castle. She said cannabis consumption helped her get through the pandemic and she prefers smoking marijuana to manage her medical issues, including chronic migraines, rather than taking prescription medications.
“I don’t know why it’s not legal,” she said. “It’s safer than anything else.”
A study, including a comparative risk assessment of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and other illicit drugs published in Scientific Reports in 2015, says results confirm that the risk of cannabis may have been overestimated in the past, and in contrast, the risk of alcohol may have been commonly underestimated.
Joie Leigh runs a group called Platoon 420, a media organization that reports stories of the War on Drugs from the perspective of victims.
“I don’t believe it’s an arrest or a raid when nobody is hurting anybody,” she said. “It’s a kidnapping, a violent home invasion.”
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, marijuana arrests account for over half of all drug arrests in the United States. The ACLU also says that states waste over $3.5 billion every year enforcing marijuana laws.
Ms. Leigh is from Baltimore and now lives in Arizona. She helps to run a facility that helps veterans seek natural treatment and therapy. Her father was a Baltimore City police officer and a Vietnam War veteran who died of cancer in 2017. He wanted to try cannabis as a medical treatment, but was worried he would lose his benefits.
“He is a victim of the drug war,” Ms. Leigh said. “If they aren’t dying in prison or dying on the streets in a black market that the government created, then they’re dying because they don’t have access to cannabis.”
The American Cancer Society says that a number of small studies found smoked marijuana can be helpful in treating nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy and in treatment of neuropathic pain. Smoked marijuana has also helped improve food intake in HIV patients in studies. Studies have long shown that people who took marijuana extracts in clinical trials tended to need less pain medicine.
Kitty Rotten, a rock ‘n’ roll band of four based in the Wilmington and Philadelphia area, played the Weedstock stage on Friday. The band leader, who goes by the band’s stage name, Kitty Rotten, said Weedstock visitors all have a great spirit. He believes cannabis should have been legalized a long time ago and that Delaware is “behind the ball” on cannabis legalization.
“They had a chance to be the first ones in the area to (legalize) marijuanna, and now they’ve screwed it up,” he said. “Everyone else is going to be established so they’re really dragging their feet and it’s going to cost the state a lot of money.”
Several Delaware lawmakers have proposed bills for legalization, starting as early as 2017. Since then, several states such as New York, New Jersey, and Virginia approved measures for legalization.
Weedstock showcased many potential business opportunities should recreational cannabis use be legalized in Delaware. Marijuana cannot only be smoked, but infused in candy, chips, fried and baked goods.