The annual Freedom Rally took place in the Boston Common this past weekend – and this year the gathering was a celebration, a statement and an advocate’s place to educate all in one as November looms closer and residents prepare to vote on Question 4. Some were there celebrating that they have gotten this far, and some were there simply to show their support and make it clear that legalization won’t hurt anyone. Others used the event as an opportunity to try and help people who are opposed or on the fence about the issue to see a different side of the culture, something the mainstream media has only begun to show glimpses of in recent years.
Over the two day event, the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (MassCann, the group who has been leading Question 4 from the beginning) had a tent that was prepared to register new voters and educate uncertain voters – but they also had their emergency order allowing the event on hand, which they received from a judge just before setting up. This was the sixth year in a row that the annual Freedom Rally (also known as Hemp Fest) has had to go to court over their event, even though it’s been happening every year since 1989.
“They’ve done whatever they possibly could to stop our organization from freely assembling and speaking on Boston Common we have had to sue them six times and we have won six times and the city keeps doing this time and time again,” William Downing of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition said. “We are sure it’s because they don’t like our message.”
The Rally was filled with thousands of people, lighting up and enjoying cannabis freely – as we should be able to do all the time – all the while enjoying some great music, good food and getting to know new people. These kinds of events, while some may view them as outdated, sit-in style protests, are still trying to make a point; we’re a peaceful group of people and all we want is to be able to enjoy using cannabis without fearing the legal system with every puff.
I think the Freedom Rally is a great expression of our counter culture – and it may have greatly increased the number of people in support of Question 4 who may not even have been registered to vote before. There were no arrests made during the event either, which is definitely saying something – not only did police allow this civil protest in the form of cannabis consumption, but there were no fights or anything that resulted in an arrest either. From all appearances it was a successful, peaceful weekend in support of cannabis legalization, allowing MassCann to educate voters on the question they will be asked on the ballot this fall.