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Dude! Seattle police to give out munchies at Hempfest

The Seattle Police Department will give away bags of Doritos at this weekend's annual Hempfest with stickers affixed reminding people about the state's new pot laws. (AP file)

If the thousands of pot smokers attending Seattle’s annual Hempfest this weekend get the munchies, the Seattle Police Department will be there to help out – giving away bags of Doritos. Really.

There is a slight catch. The snack-sized bags will have stickers attached to them with information about the state’s new marijuana law.

“It’s deliberately ironic, it’s meant to be tongue-in-cheek,” police department spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb tells KIRO Radio. “We are kind of playing into that stereotype that people going to a pot festival might be high and they might be hungry.”

Word of the giveaway first surfaced Wednesday morning in The Stranger. While humorous, the intention is serious. The goal is to remind people what’s legal and what’s not.

“We’re pretty sure that passing out these snacks will actually get some interest from people we’re giving them to rather than just passing out brochures, which I don’t think would have been nearly as successful,” Whitcomb says. “We want to make sure the information we are providing gets people up to speed and lets them know what the rules are.”

The labels steer people to the SPD’s popular “Marijwhatnow?” FAQ post, which outlines the changes that took effect after voters legalized marijuana in November 2012.

Even though the new law still prohibits smoking pot in public, Whitcomb says cops won’t be looking to make a bunch of busts over the weekend. He says while there will be plenty of police there, public safety and traffic control are the priorities.

“We decided we wanted to make sure we had a presence there, that we were letting people know what the rules were, and we thought what better way to do that than pass out snacks,” Whitcomb says. “It’s done in good humor.”

But Whitcomb says police won’t be turning a blind eye to minors smoking in public, or people getting high and driving. And he says while it’s legal to possess pot at Hempfest, it’s still illegal to sell it or give it away. Police will make arrests if they see it.

Money for the chip giveaway is coming from the privately-run Seattle Police Foundation. A spokesman expects they will hand out about 1,000 of the snack-sized bags over the weekend.

“Please ignore maliciously false reports that we’re giving out Bugles at @seattlehempfest. We would never, ever do that,” the department joked in a tweet.

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