By Joe Clair

A “homegrown” event, the inaugural National Cannabis Festival this Saturday, will focus on policy rather than recreational use.

Caroline Phillips, co-chair and co-founder of the festival, visited The Joe Clair Morning Show on 4/20 to talk about the event and issues surrounding marijuana legalization.

She pointed out that in 2011, 5,800 people were arrested for marijuana, 90 percent of whom were people of color. In 2015, that number dropped to 128.

“In four years we are changing the way our police interact with communities, we are hopefully changing the age that young people first interact with police and we are hopefully enabling our police in our city to actually go after violent crimes, not non-violent cannabis users,” the activist said.

When young men of color are disproportionately targeted for marijuana arrests, “that’s a civil rights issue, that’s a human rights issue. We shouldn’t be locking up one group of people but letting another slide.”

The festival will celebrate progress on marijuana legalization in D.C. and across the United States. Phillips hopes it will also encourage minorities to become involved in the cannabis industry: “People of all colors, all backgrounds, need to have access to this industry to be able to start businesses, and need to have access to the education so they know the law.”

Those interested in growing their own weed or starting a business can check out vendors and exhibitors at the education pavilion. Festival-goers can also visit dispensaries on site to find information about getting a medical marijuana card.

Food, drinks, games and music are also on tap. De La Soul will headline, with earlier performances by Jesse Royal, Congo Sanchez, Backyard Band and Nappy Riddem.

The National Cannabis Festival will take place from 12 to 8 p.m. this Saturday, April 23, at the festival grounds at RFK stadium. The event is only for those 21 or over, and smoking weed at the festival is not allowed. Buy general admission tickets for $35 here.

A post shared by joeclair (@joeclair) on

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