BERLIN – The timing may be a little off for a hemp and cannabis expo in Berlin Saturday, coming on the heels of a major drug bust of some 30 illegal drug manufacturers and dealers in the city, but the coordinators of the event make no apologies.
The T.H.C Expo is being held to tout the wonders of medical marijuana and the economic potential of hemp farming.
“We planned this before the big drug bust,” said Narin Selthofner of Green Lake.
Selthofner and her activist husband Jay Selthofner helped plan the exposition at the public library to put the spotlight on the benefits of the cannabis plant as medicine and an agricultural crop. Green Lake, Dodge and Fond du Lac counties were once important hemp-growing areas and the plant still grows wild in the region, Narin Selthofner said.
The T.H.C Expo, which stands for Talking Hemp and Cannabis, aims to “openly and honestly” discuss the Medical Marijuana Act and the hemp farming bill being debated this year by state lawmakers, she said.
Hemp can be used to produce non-toxic diesel fuel, clothing and textiles, cosmetics, paints and cleaners, paper and building materials. An important part of the local economy was stifled when the federal government banned hemp cultivation, Narin Selthofner said.
The Selthofners expect a big turnout Saturday, including protesters, for the expo-style event that is bringing in experts to discuss the issue. Among them are James E. Gierach of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and Mieko Hester-Perez of California whose autistic son has benefited greatly from the use of medical marijuana. He was wasting away before her eyes and at death’s door before she began feeding him small doses of marijuana-infused brownies, according to a news release.
Mayor Dick Schramer said some local residents have questioned holding the expo in a public building, but there are no grounds for library personnel to refuse the gathering.
“It’s just another bill in the legislature. It’s within library policy to allow that,” he said.
The exposition will include representatives of organizations such as Is My Medicine Legal Yet?, Wisconsin NORML, Madison NORML, Americans for Safe Access, MJ2 Media, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin.
IMMLY Founder Jacki Rickert, namesake of the Wisconsin medical cannabis bill, is expected to attend along with state and regional activists Gary Storck and Ben Masel.
The Selthofners said exposition is set up to give everyone who wants a chance to speak an opportunity to do so.
Printed educational materials will be available from the experts.