Last February, a group of pot advocates and enthusiasts started plotting a cannabis festival focused on policy, not recreational use. Now, after more than a year of planning, the National Cannabis Festival is coming to D.C. on April 23. Held on the festival grounds at RFK Stadium, the full-day bash features De La Soul as the headlining act, with earlier performances by Jesse Royal, Congo Sanchez, Backyard Band and Nappy Riddem.
The festival’s other components — an education pavilion and fairs dedicated to advocacy and vendors — make it clear the inaugural event isn’t only about cool music and good vibes. In partnership with more than 20 advocacy groups, the event celebrates the loosening of cannabis bans.
The festival debuts in the city a year or so after the District legalized pot, a move that has not only had legal ramifications but also cultural ones. More than half of D.C. residents regularly sniff out pot smoke. And in September, along with contests for the best pie, home brew and ice cream, the D.C. State Fair held a competition for the best bud — based, of course, solely on appearance, aroma and feel.
In addition to launching a conversation about policy, festival organizer Caroline Phillips says affordability was an important factor; general admission tickets cost $35. As for the prospect of lighting up on festival grounds, however, that move remains a no-no. “The event will be in full compliance with D.C. law,” Phillips says. “We won’t be promoting or approving of any on-site cannabis use.”
The National Cannabis Festival, RFK Stadium, April 23 at noon. General admission $35. VIP $250. Tickets available via Ticketmaster.