10 Busted at Hempcon

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Is there nowhere in this world a stoner can find some peace?

Bush of a hempCops in Las Vegas said they arrested 10 people at Hempcon, a three-day medical marijuana convention held in the city. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said undercover officers caught people buying and selling cannabis through convention booths.

Police Lt. Laz Chavez, who works with the department’s Narcotics Section, said vendors at five separate booths were busted selling weed to narcs. The event was held at Las Vegas’ Cashman Center in late May.

Chavez said cops also caught vendors selling magic mushrooms. Police talked with the convention’s organizers before it started, Chavez said, and they were briefed on Nevada marijuana laws. The promoter met with officials from the city’s business licensing department, Chavez said.

Apparently the event was targeted based on its marijuana theme – hardly a surprise from police who typically still view pot as the equivalent of heroin.

Waste of time and money

The city may issue a criminal citation against the promoter, Chavez said. On May 18, the organizers behind Hempcon released a statement condemning the busts as a waste of time and money.

“We deeply regret the unfortunate police activity during the Las Vegas Hempcon over the weekend of May 15-17,” the organizers said. “It was a blow to our Vendors, the attendees, the Community as a whole, and to us as well. It is sad that our industry is subject to such indiscriminate and prejudicial behavior by law enforcement, but we as a Community will PERSEVERE and not let our forward momentum be derailed by them.”

Observers who attended the convention said the site was swarming with cops and police dogs from before it opened. It’s not much of a surprise they found someone allegedly breaking the law, given how hard they were looking.

From May 15 to 17, narcs closed five booths, arrested 10 people, and issued citations to three others. The charges include possession, possession with intent to sell, and transporting a controlled substance, the department said. Police seized cannabis, hash, seeds, edibles, and mushrooms.

Law enforcement using aggressive tactics

HempconThe arrests were made by a Nevada law enforcement task force, a group that includes a DEA agent. If the developments in May were any indication, all these agencies may be seeking to embarrass pot advocates or shut down marijuana-themed conventions using aggressive tactics.

Such a strategy would make sense, given that police agencies such as the DEA are becoming increasingly isolated in their insistence on busting potheads. One convention attendee, activist Mark Saint, noted that cops have let tokers slide at other, non-themed events.

Another cannabis advocate, Jason Sturtsman, wondered why police were expending money and manpower on a drug that is rapidly becoming legal.

“It just seems like a waste of resources,” Sturtsman said.

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