By Adam Edelman, News Reporter October 04, 2002 These aren't your typical potheads. They're not lying around listening to Phish and eating Teddy Grahams. These potheads are up and about, advocating the substance they cherish -- marijuana. The 31st Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival will be held in downtown Madison this weekend to inform the public of the possible benefits of legalizing marijuana, in addition to what the event's sponsors assert are the harms that marijuana's prohibition has already caused. Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, claims that the festival is "up there among the famous Madison events." This year's Harvest Festival, which is being run -- as it has since it's inception -- by marijuana activist Ben Masel, will address such topics as alternatives to U.S drug policies, civil rights, efforts to pass medical marijuana legislation, local drug policy, and drug testing in schools. The complete event will feature speakers, live bands, DJs, workshops, and a celebration of the Cannabis plant. Although Madison police are not anticipating considerable problems, they will be prepared to deal with any disturbances of the peace. "We'll be monitoring the event, but the history is that we've not had any significant problems in the recent past," said Madison Police Department Capt. Luis Yudice, of the Central District Police Force. The police say they really have no reasons to be concerned, as many past festivals commemorating marijuana have been executed very well. However, five or six years ago, this was not the case. "Things [in the past] got a little out of hand and we had to make some arrests," Yudice said. "But since then it's been fine." One of the matters police are aware of is the fact that many people will smoke marijuana at the festival. In fact, it has become a tradition to make a pilgrimage to the Capitol and light up on the steps. But Yudice remains composed. "For people who are smoking pot, we'll deal with them as they come up ... some people try to provoke the police by smoking something that looks like marijuana, but actually isn't," he said. Yudice said he does not think medicinal marijuana should be legalized. "The medical use may be appropriate, but I think that we have seen the affects of illegal drug use and the impact it has on society, so I'm a little leery on the idea of free drug use," he said. Conversely, Verveer voiced support for legalizing marijuana. "Not only do I think that medicinal marijuana should have been passed by the U.S. years ago, but also that personal possession and consumption should be legalized," he said. Speakers at this year's festival will include Elvy Musikka, one of seven patients who receive 300 pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes monthly as part of a federal government program; Steve Silverman, director of Flex Your Rights, a Washington, D.C., based organization that teaches individuals how to protect their liberties from overzealous law enforcement; and Valerie Gremillion from the Global Dialog Project. Closing the festival will be a march Sunday from State Street to the State Capitol at 3 p.m.