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Pot festival returns to Zephyr Park

The proponents of marijuana legalization plan a picnic with petitions and games such as hemp seed spitting.

By CARY DAVIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 13, 2000


ZEPHYRHILLS -- For the second year in a row, the Florida Organization for Reformed Marijuana Laws is bringing its grass-roots revolution to Zephyrhills.

And again, the city will be a reluctant host to the torchbearers of the movement to legalize marijuana in Florida.

FORML's Hemp Revolution Bar-B-Que will take place July 1 in the city's Zephyr Park on Fifth Avenue. FORML has received approval from the city to stage the event, which will include music, food, speakers, petition drives and booths selling hemp products.

"We're trying to bring out to the public all the different uses of marijuana," said Nancy Plymale, FORML's assistant executive director and a Zephyrhills resident. She said the group tries to stage at least one festival in every Florida county.

This year the group has added some competition to the laid-back event. The Stoner Games 2000 will pit marijuana supporters against one another in a hemp seed spitting contest and the "dealer dash."

The dealer dash tests participants' ability to buy just the right amount of contraband from a host of sellers. The object, said Plymale, is to buy exactly one ounce of uh, well. . .

"Unfortunately, we can't do that," Plymale said. She said a substitute for the potent plant will be used in the games.

Plymale said FORML members will circulate petitions calling for the legalization of marijuana.

Among the bands scheduled to play: the Mollies, Harvest, and White Devil in the Trailer Park.

Admission to the event is free.

A banner advertising the festival will be raised above U.S. 301 at Sixth Avenue two weeks before the event.

"It's just one of those things," said City Manager Steve Spina, adding that FORML has a First Amendment right to assemble in public like other groups. "I don't think it's something that 95 percent of this community supports, but they have a right to do it."

City police Chief Robert Howell said he doesn't expect any problems and no extra officers will be assigned to watch -- or smell -- for people partaking of the forbidden weed. "As a matter of routine, we'll patrol the park," Howell said. "We'll have a regular police presence. But we don't have any plans to spy on them."

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