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Marijuana: Boston Freedom Rally Draws 30,000 -- No Arrests, Some Tickets, in Wake of State Decrim Vote

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #602)
Politics & Advocacy

The 20th annual Boston Freedom Rally brought an estimated 30,000 people to Boston Common on Saturday, September 19, to support the reform of marijuana laws. That would make the Freedom Rally the second largest marijuana reform event in the country, behind only the Seattle Hempfest.

2009 Boston Freedom Rally (Scott Gacek on
All afternoon, tens of thousands of people sat in the sun, listening to speakers extolling the virtues of cannabis and calling for its legalization and bands rocking out for the cause. At 4:20pm, a massive cloud of marijuana smoke rose from the Commons as the crowd celebrated the stoner holiday (or time of day).

Sponsored by MassCann, the Bay State affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the Freedom Rally had in some past years been marred by arrests for pot-smoking. In a previous article, Drug War Chronicle predicted that the rally would see "numerous arrests -- if police behavior in the past is any indicator." That was an overstatement -- our apologies to MASSCANN for it. 2007 did see 53 arrests at the Freedom Rally, according to Boston Police -- one of them of NORML founder Keith Stroup. But even that number, while significant, was a fraction of a percent of the attendees. Last year, the number of possession busts was down to just six.

And this year there were none. Massachusetts residents voted to decriminalize marijuana possession last November, and so all the police could do this year was issue tickets with a maximum fine of $100, which they did to 136 people. Three others were arrested for marijuana distribution, and another three on unspecified charges.

Still, participants and organizers of the festival alike lauded the relative freedom of living in a decrim state, while decrying the presence of undercover officers who, apparently randomly, would select members of the crowd to be searched and hassled. On its web site, Freedom Rally organizers have asked that people who were ticketed or searched by police contact them.

Stay tuned for Chronicle coverage of the Massachusetts decriminalization law and of the movement in Massachusetts.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

I wasn't there and am perhaps speaking out of turn but at early rallies in Vancouver there were arrests for distribution that were no more than simply passing a joint.It's great to see that people can get together down south without too much risk of arrest.The large number of tickets is sad though.

Sat, 10/03/2009 - 5:21am Permalink
maxwood (not verified)

100 tickets issued to 136 persons = $13,600. This reminds me of Reichskristallnacht (the "other 9/11"-- 9th day of Nov. 1938) when after "torchlight parade" violence courtesy of Dr. Goebbels, in which 863 synagogues were torched and dozens killed, guess who-- the Jews were "fined" a billion ("milliard") Reichsmarks.

The strategy here would be, when hearing-time arrives, to demand that the progressive intelligent judge in each and every case commute the sentence to a corresponding number of hours of community service doing, say, carpentry for the local Habitat for Humanity, or other tasks that create an opportunity to show off the skills and work ethic of persons associated with cannabis. Then write a report of (your, his, her) assignment and get it into the press.

Mon, 10/05/2009 - 10:18pm Permalink

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