Vivian McPeak

Vivian McPeak at Seattle Hempfest in 2007

Vivian McPeak (born 1958) is an American peace, social justice and cannabis rights activist, and musician, in Seattle, Washington. Mcpeak founded the Peace Heathens in 1988, a Seattle community action group. McPeak and Gary Cooke organized the first Seattle Hempfest in 1991, the 2-day event has grown to become the world's largest cannabis policy reform rally. McPeak, who is director of Hempfest, performed with the rock band Stickerbush in the 1980s.[1][2]


Born in 1958 and raised in Los Angeles, California, McPeak came to Seattle to attend Ballard High for his sophomore year of high school in 1974.[3] He lived in California, but returned to Seattle in 1986 after his California rock group broke up.[4] In 1988 he founded the 'Seattle Peace Heathens Community Action Group'[4] which started off with "just a piece of paper that was our creed, our kind of statement to the world."[3]

The Peace Heathens group organized a Gas Works Park peace vigil in 1990, protesting the Gulf War. The protesters sang, meditated and one day invited a speaker from a marijuana law reform group, who didn't show up. As a response to that disappointment Gary Cooke suggested to McPeak that they organize a pot rally together. The "protestival" started in the spring of 1991 as the 'Washington Hemp Expo', with about 500 people in Volunteer Park. The following year, with the attendance quadrupling, it was renamed and continues to be known as the 'Seattle Hempfest'. [5]


McPeak is the recipient of the High Times 2001 Freedom Fighter of the Year Award,[6] as well as the 2012 High Times Lester Grinspoon Lifetime Achievement Award,[7] the Dope Magazine Emery Award for lifetime achievement in the cannabis industry,[8] and was listed by Seattle Magazine as one of the 50 Most Influential People of 2016.[9]

McPeak has also appeared on numerous network and cable news outlets including CNN,[10] FOX,[11] and CNBC.[12]

In 2015 McPeak was the opening keynote speaker at the inaugural Washington Cannabis Summit at the Crowne Plaza in Seatac, Washington.[13][14]


McPeak is the author of the book Protestival: A Twenty Year Retrospective of Seattle HEMPFEST.[15] He has a weekly radio podcast at called Hempresent.[16]

McPeak is a guest blogger for the,[17] he has also been published in the "social-political-religious criticism and satire" magazine the Realist by Paul Krassner.[18] Krassner in turn wrote a piece about McPeak for High Times, called 'The Trial of Vivian McPeak'.[19]


  1. ^ "History Seattle HEMPFEST". June 20, 2014. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  2. ^ Martin A. Lee (August 13, 2013). Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana – Medical, Recreational and Scientific. Simon and Schuster. pp. 471–. ISBN 978-1-4391-0261-9.
  3. ^ a b "University District Museum - Without Walls Oral History: Vivian McPeak (founder, Seattle Peace Heathens; executive director, Seattle Hempfest)". March 16, 2010. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Graves, Joy. "2012 Lester Grinspoon Lifetime Achievement Award Winner is Vivian McPeak". Salem-News. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  5. ^ Mcnerthney, Casey (August 18, 2007). "Where there's smoke, there's Hempfest". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  6. ^ Dante, P. T. "Cannabis Cup Winners - Vivian McPeak". Cannabis Cup Winners. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  7. ^ Graves, Joy (October 16, 2012). "2012 Lester Grinspoon Lifetime Achievement Award Winner is Vivian McPeak". Retrieved March 31, 2019. A soulful humanitarian, Vivian McPeak is also Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Seattle Hempfest.
  8. ^ "Event Recap: DOPE Industry Awards - Washington 2016". DOPE Magazine. December 15, 2016. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  9. ^ "Seattle's Hall of Fame: Activism/Social Justice, Civic Discourse and Community Leaders, Civil Rights and Cannabis". Seattle Magazine. October 31, 2016. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  10. ^ Neilson, Bryn (April 5, 2013). "Seattle's budding green economy: Pot tourism". CNN Travel. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  11. ^ "Official: Biden to Name Seattle Police Chief as Next Drug Czar". Fox News. March 26, 2015. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  12. ^ "The origins of 4/20, marijuana's high holiday". April 20, 2017. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  13. ^ "2015 Summit - Keynote Speakers". The WA State Cannabis Summit. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  14. ^ "HNEN Interviews Vivian McPeak at the Washington Cannabis Summit". YouTube. Hempfest News & Education Network. January 16, 2015.
  15. ^ "Vivian Mc Peak's Protestival Book Signing | in Seattle". Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  16. ^ "Hempresent Archives". Cannabis Radio. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  17. ^ McPeak, Vivian. "Vivian McPeak – Vivian McPeak is a Pacific Northwest based musician and social justice activist. He is also the executive director of the world's largest cannabis policy reform rally, Seattle Hempfest". Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  18. ^ McPeak, Vivian (Summer 1997). "Keep Me Posted". The Realist. p. 10. Archived from the original on August 2008. Retrieved March 31, 2019. Issue Number 136
  19. ^ Paul Krassner (February 13, 2004). "The Trial of Vivian McPeak". High Times. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved March 31, 2019.

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