Last weekend, the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (MassCann) held its 26th annual Freedom Rally at Boston Common. Boasting larger numbers than ever before, it’s estimated that over 45,000 people attended throughout the duration of the event.
As far as cannabis-related events go, Boston’s Freedom Rally is second in size only to Washington's “Hempfest,” held in Seattle. This year's attendance was the largest they have seen in the rally’s 26-year-history. With an audience that seems to be growing by the day, this is an important period of time for cannabis reform.
While still in the infancy stages on the East Coast, organizations like MasCann/NORML are petitioning to place complete legalization on the ballot for November 2016; the Freedom Rally stands to represent the collective celebration of a common interest: freedom for cannabis.
The legislation MassCann/NORML is proposing is better known as the “Bay State Repeal Proposal” and is one of the more aggressive plans on the table so far. Its primary restriction is that there will be no sales or consumption for persons under 21 years of age. Mainly, it focuses on applying the Massachusetts state tax of 6.25% and regulating the advertisement and sale of the product to consumers.
The Boston Freedom Rally itself is a chance for people to be a little less formal when speaking about cannabis reform. Enjoying the weather, some fried dough, and of course hanging out with your friend Mary Jane, it's hard not to let the good vibrations overtake you for a while. Stepping into the Commons this past weekend was like walking into a hippie paradise. Tents lined tightly against the various paths with merchants selling everything from wallets made of hemp, to giant hand-blown glass that I could only dream of affording.
The variety of hemp products was especially exciting to see, given that the applications for industrial hemp are growing by the month. You, of course, had your 500+ T-shirt vendors with a variety of counter-cultural mantras, tents full of glass pipes and accessories, and caregiver/patient consulting firms which are all about the medicinal uses of cannabis.
Overall, the Freedom Rally/legalize cannabis movement in Massachusetts has come a long way since its beginning 26 years ago. The dedication of people behind the movement and the passion that individuals have for this plant is exciting to witness and be a part of.
Stay stoned for the next issue of the Canna Culture Column where I sit down with Bill Downing, the founder and current treasurer of MassCann/NORML, and get down to the nitty-gritty of everything from what it takes to start a cannabis movement, to where he gets his passion for the cannabis industry.
There are a multitude of different regulations being proposed within the Bay State Repeal. If you want to inquire further, check out the website at http://baystaterepeal.org.