Over the weekend, Seattle police handed out hundreds of bags of Doritos to attendees of the annual waterfront Hempfest festival. It was the first Hempfest since state voters last year legalized recreational use of marijuana.
The bags, part of what the cops called Operation Orange Fingers, were labeled with advice on how to comply with the new law, including the warning that smoking in public is still illegal. Judging from the reported aroma in the vicinity of Myrtle Edwards Park, many attendees to Hempfest were illiterate or too stoned to read.
The story of cops bearing Doritos–the legendary nachos-cheese-flavored craving of those on high–was catnip to the news media and the Internet, where a Google News search for Seattle and Doritos produced nearly
31,000 36,000 hits. “Dope Doritos at Seattle pot fest,” said a headline in the New York Daily News. “Seattle PD’s Stash of Doritos Totally Cashed,” proclaimed Gawker. “Cops deal Doritos at Hempfest,” said the website of KVTI in St. Louis. “Cops give stoners chips,” declared Daily Beast.
“Cops handing out Doritos? Jack Webb is well and truly dead,” said a headline over a disapproving column on the website of the Steubenville (Ohio) Herald-Star.
Seattle and its Doritos were, ah, fodder for the hosts of NBC’s “Today” show. “The Doritos are also not just to satisfy munchies, but they have information on the law,” insisted Savannah Guthrie. “Right,” said Matt Lauer. “And when we started talking about this, Jimmy Buffett just left and jumped on a plane.”
Liberal Seattle has been pretty lenient for years about pot use, which is still illegal under federal law. The Seattle Police Department, which spends more time ticketing and sometimes beating jaywalkers, has tried to project a Joe Cool attitude on the pot issue. Its official blog has even linked to a YouTube-posted clip of stoned characters from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
As I see it, and previously have opined here and here, legal pot is bringing as much attention to Seattle as did the 1962 World’s Fair. Indeed, Seattle image-makers expect a record flood this year of tourists but won’t admit that’s due in any part to legal pot.
Maybe the extra crowds of folks are simply coming to munch Doritos.