The 5th Annual Jacksonville Hempfest 4/20/2002

A video of the Event is here

The Fifth Annual Hempfest occurred at its origin in Jacksonville Beach,
Florida at the Seawalk Pavilion on April 20, 2002. The all day "fest"
dubbed a "Free Speech Rally" this year attracted more visitors than ever
before to the brand new and delightful bandshell and park on the ocean.
Visitors from 7 to 71 took in the music, information and opinion relating
to the reform of all laws associated with cannabis. This year's event
encouraged a more local focus on changing the climate for cannabis users in
the Northeast Florida region.

Previous events have been bogged down in federal court litigation over
such things as the content of banners, paying for police, outrageous
insurance requirements, and stifling fees. Ordinances in both the cities of
Jacksonville Beach and later in Jacksonville have been found
unconstitutional by US District Judge Harvey Schlesinger. No lawsuits were
filed as in 3 of the previous 4 events. The Hempfest was not without City
interference and meddling.

Approximately two weeks before April 20, Hempfest Directors Scott Bledsoe
and Michael Johnson met with city officials to discuss the plan of the
event. At this time the city changed the requirements previously agreed
upon by Hempfest and City Special Events Coordinator Marilyn Matejcek. The
city asked for $400 rental (up from $200) of the park, plus an additional
$400 deposit, plus $1,000,000 liability insurance policy, plus porta johns
(public restrooms in easy walking distance), plus other things. The city
had agreed to not deposit the $400 check for the additional deposit but did
anyway. Payment on that check was promptly stopped. The festival ended up
having to purchase the insurance for $400 and paying the $400 rental to the

The park was packed from 2PM until 9PM attendance estimates ranged from
1,000 (from the Florida Times Union @1PM) to 6,000 by the local Fox
affiliate WAWS 30. Eleven Local bands entertained the visitors including
the Steve Walker Band which was recently featured on Cinemax's Mule Skinner
Blues show (see: ).
Music however was not the only draw. Doug Klippel of the Duval Libertarian
Party, Kevin Aplin of Florida CAN, and Heath Wintz of Students for
Sensibile Drug Policy gave some of the many interesting speeches during the

The Florida Times Union reported eighteen arrests at the festival, at
least 10 for possession of marijuana (see: & .)

None of the hempfest organizers witnessed a single arrest. There were
rumors during the festival that one man had been arrested on the beach by
two undercover police dressed in bikinis, however no one seems to have any
clue of where the others were arrested. Hempfest organizers are attempting
to gain access to arrest records to verify locations and times of arrests.
(also see the bottom of: )

All in all however, the festival was a huge success and reached more
citizens than ever before, new faces amongst some old friends made for a
great event. Hempfest organizers got their jab in to the media however with
a letter to the editor printed in Times Union's Shorelines Section
( ).

So what is next in Jacksonville?
Hempfest organizers are forming JAXCAN a Jacksonville Based chapter of
Cannabis Action Network that will serve the counties of Duval, Clay,
Nassau, and St Johns in Northeast Florida. This in an effort to fundraise
locally and involve citizens in the more immediate concerns of the area.

A Local Ballot initiative? JAXCAN will take up the possibility of a local
ballot initiative to eliminate the fear of arrest for possession of small
amounts of cannabis. Currently the police have discretion to arrest or not
arrest those people. It takes a mere 20,000 signatures to get a county
ordinance on the ballot.


Time: 4-20-2002
"High" Noon Until 9pm

acksonville Beach, FL
Seawalk Pavilion: 1st Street N
See Map Here


These Bands played at the 4-20-2002 hempfest....
Manna Zen

Better Dayz

Troubled Mind
Steve Walker Band ("Mule Skinner Blues")
Superfly Rodeo
and others...

Arrests: Times Union reported 18 by undercover sometimes bikini clad cops

Below see the communication from and to the city for the event.

Click here to see the letter from Jacksonville Beach.

Click here to see our response.

Good News: On July 3rd, 2001 we received a call from Marilyn Matejcek, Jax Beach Special Events director. She said the city has agreed to all of our demands in the response letter above. WOO HOO no court this year.

If you would like to be involved go back to the main page and sign up for our e-mail list.