Oakland plays host to Cannabis street fair


Oakland Police say around 5,000 people were in attendance at the hemp fest. One attendee, Lynette Middleton, has been a medical marijuana user since 1999 and says it has been instrumental in her therapy.

"I got run over by a car in 1988, so it's helped with the pain," Middleton said.

Prior to her marijuana use, Middleton was on prescription pain killers. Now, she's one of the attendants at Linda Jackson's medical marijuana tent. As a nurse, Jackson is an advocate for getting the word out about legal marijuana use.

"Especially our elders, our retirees, our veterans," said Jackson. "They're very afraid because their monies are challenged when they do decide this is the mode of self-medication."

Jackson is also a medical marijuana user. She is one of dozens of exhibitors at the Cannabis and Hemp Expo.

This is the first year the expo has been held on the front steps of Oakland's City Hall, and organizers say their hope is to make Oakland the "place to go" in the world for pot tourism.

"Oakland was the birth place of Proposition 19," said event organizer Salwa Ibrahim. "We have a school and a museum, and a lot of these different businesses that really do cater to the cannabis industry."

Ibrahim says the most important thing to take away from the expo is how to safely consume marijuana as medicine.

Not everyone is happy about the pot fest in Oakland. Charles O'Neal with the Coalition for a Drug-Free California is concerned about people lighting up in the city's seat of government as well as the message that the expo sends to children.

"When I was coming along in the 50s and 60s, (the message was) we don't want this in our neighborhoods because we know the effects," O'Neal said. "The man is bringing it in, dumping it in the community. Why aren't we saying that today?"

For Jackson, her hope is to get as many people using medical marijuana as possible.

"We would have so much more harmony going on amongst us," Jackson said. "If we're feeling relaxed and good, we ain't thinking about pulling the trigger." Though the event is being held at City Hall, officials aren't allowing photographers to take pictures or video of attendants lighting up with City Hall in the background.

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