This Weekend: 25th Annual Boston Freedom Rally

By David Bloch | 09/11/2014

This weekend – September 13 and 14 – the 25th iteration of the Boston Freedom Rally will be held at Boston Common. The event is organized by the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (MassCann), the state affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

MassCann’s mission is simple: “To build a consensus for a more moral and rational public policy regarding all uses of the cannabis plant.”

“Our core position is that the regulation of cultivation, ownership, and distribution of cannabis among adults is best undertaken outside the courts, via taxation, and the force of social and cultural opinion.”

Every year, thousands of people from across the region descend upon Boston Common to enjoy the “second largest annual gathering of cannabis supporters in the world.” This is the second consecutive year that the rally will be held over two days.

If you haven’t been before, the Freedom Rally features an eclectic mix of music, speeches, education, political activism, vendors who sell everything from food to clothes, and – of course – a lot of smoke in the air, (especially at 4:20 PM).

Earlier this year Boston instituted a ban on smoking in public parks within the city, under penalty of a $250 fine. MassCann’s Bill Downing told the Dig last week that he didn’t think the ill-conceived ban could be enforced on such a large scale: “The effect will be minimal. Those who implemented the ban will be sorely disappointed when they see it has had little impact on the Freedom Rally.”

“The ban is predicated on second-hand smoke studies, none of which were conducted outside. In the open air, second-hand smoke is not an issue. The ban is actually based on politics – not science. Air pollution in general may be an issue, but smoking is not a significant factor in general outdoor air quality.

The routine is the ranger or cop approaches, sees you are smoking, and tells you [that] you cannot. You have a choice: extinguish your smoke and smoke at some other place some other time, or continue smoking and get a citation.”

This is truly one of those events you have to attend at least once in your life, if only to enjoy the spectacle of thousands upon thousands of unapologetic marijuana smokers and supporters occupying a park in Downtown Boston only hundreds of feet from the State House.

This year promises to be special, as MassCann and other groups gear up for a push to put cannabis law reform and legalization on the ballot in 2016. MassCann has partnered with Natick’s Northeastern Institute of Cannabis to offer an education tent with panel discussions led by leading cannabis experts.

For a full list of this weekend’s schedule, click here.