Scottsboro Hemp Festival hopes to attract more to advocate expanded use

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SCOTTSBORO, Ala. — A new festival in Jackson County seeks to both celebrate and inform others about hemp, cannabis, and marijuana consumption’s potential benefits.

“This was a perfect opportunity to open people’s eyes and educate people about CBD, hemp, marijuana, you know, where it’s headed, (and) the education behind it,” said Amy Parris, Scottsboro smoke shop owner and founder of the Scottsboro Hemp Festival.

Saturday was the first day of festivities, and it continues Sunday from 11-6.

“People tend to have a negative mindset about things that really are good,” Parris said. “It’s medicinal, it helps people. (There are) so many testimonies of people that come in the store and say it helps them.”

Even in northeast Alabama, the president of the state’s cannabis coalition says the hemp festival can make an impact on public opinion.

“I would like for somebody to get up every morning if they were retired or if they weren’t retired, and go out into a field and plant seeds and not have to worry about if it was illegal to have possession of them,” said H. Marty Schelper, founder and president of Alabama Cannabis Coalition.

Medicinal use was already signed into law this year, but Schelper argues future Alabama laws could surpass a southern state like Oklahoma, which has an established cannabis industry.

“I mean, they went above and beyond the call of duty and I hear that there’s just dispensaries everywhere,” she said. “So you know, Oklahoma did a great job but it’s just not enough.”

Both advocates say weekends like this one, despite Saturday’s rain dampening afternoon attendance, will help the state’s most vulnerable as well as unjustly imprisoned ask more from lawmakers.

“I’m fighting for the citizens of the state of Alabama to have legal access to cannabis, for them to able to grow at home, and to be able to expunge all cannabis convictions in the state,” Schelper said.

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