Olympia Hempfest offers high times all weekend at Heritage Park

For others, cannabis is also serious business. Attending her first Hempfest was Anne Sulton, co-owner of A Bud and Leaf, one of two recreational marijuana retailers in Olympia. She was impressed by the peaceful crowd and said the event embodies an expression of freedom that Americans often take for granted.

“I never thought I’d see in my lifetime a black president or legal marijuana,” said Sulton, who runs the store on Lilly Road with her husband, James.

Sulton, a retired civil rights attorney, hopes her business can be a role model in the legal marijuana community. A Bud and Leaf’s five employees earn $15 an hour and are part of the United Food and Commercial Workers union. In addition, the Sultons may be the only African-Americans owners in the state’s recreational retail business, she said.

Sulton also praised the state’s strict laws and accountability system that track all legal cannabis products from seed to sale. As someone who has advocated for legal marijuana for years, Sulton predicts an eventual domino effect for legalization in other states that could further diminish the black market’s influence on the industry.

“I like the fact that the state has very tough rules,” she said, noting the legitimacy that comes with those laws. “They’re complex, and they should be.”