Decriminalization and the Freedom Rally FAQ’s
Can I smoke pot legally at the Freedom Rally?
No. The possession of any amount of cannabis or THC, up to one ounce, is a civil offense in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, punishable by a $100 fine. Possession of one ounce or more of marijuana or THC is a criminal offense. By smoking it, you are possessing it, and that lungful of kush can cost you $100 in the city of Boston, and up to $400, depending on the city or town where you smoke marijuana in a public place. For the complete list of cities that have passed by-laws imposing additional fines on public consumption of cannabis, visit MassCann.org.
Can I buy pot at the Freedom Rally?
Please do not come to the Rally looking to buy or sell marijuana. MassCann is opposed to the sale of marijuana at our events, and if one of our staff sees someone selling, we will report it to the authorities.
Although you can not be arrested for possessing under an ounce of marijuana, you can be arrested for possession with intent to distribute, even if you have less than an ounce.
But what about all the pot smoking? Aren’t you guys just holding a smoke-in on the Common?
MassCann appreciates the traditions of non-violent protest against unjust laws and policies, including civil disobedience. For the first time ever, people who smoke marijuana on the Boston Common during the Freedom Rally will be committing true Civil Disobedience, as their actions by themselves are no longer criminal.
However, the purpose of the Freedom Rally is to educate the public about cannabis, the war on cannabis, and to promote cultural and political changes through that education; and to expose up-and-coming bands to larger audiences, provide local entrepreneurs a venue to sell their goods, and offer yummy, largely healthy foodstuffs to a hungry crowd.
If people want to partake in a direct resistance to marijuana prohibition at our event, that is their choice, at their own risk.
I heard there are undercover cops in the crowd, is that true?
In past years, yes. The Boston Police Department has used plainclothes officers to arrest selected attendees. A good measure of how many people attended the Freedom Rally in a given year is to take the number of people arrested, and multiply it by 1,000 — in other words, even during the worst years of arrests, well more than 99% of attendees suffered no problems.
We hope with the passage of Question 2 that the BPD will reconsider the priority, and expense, of assigning undercover officers to issue $100 citations. Especially considering that the 5 minutes or so it takes to write the citation will expose that officer to full public view of his duties, and compromise his cover.
Can the police pull you into a booking tent, like they did in the past?
If you are being cited for simple marijuana possession (the $100 civil fine), then NO. The officer cannot detain you any longer than needed to issue you the citation, and he cannot order to go with him to a booking tent if you do not want to go. In this circumstance you are not under legal obligation to provide your driver’s license or other ID.
I heard you can give the cops a fake name, is that true?
When being issued a $100 citation for simple possession of marijuana, you are not obligated to provide positive identification. But giving police a fake name for the purposes of avoiding a civil fine is also illegal, so don’t bother.
To put this in perspective, if a police officer thinks you are messing with him/her, they can come up with some reason to arrest you. Look at what happened to Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates: arrested for disorderly conduct IN HIS OWN HOME. If your home does not insulate you from imaginary charges, Boston Common provides no protections at all.
A year ago, you would face arrest, handcuffs, fingerprints, mug shots, a date with a judge and at least $300 in fees and fines, plus an arrest record, even with a CWOF. Today, it is $100, free and clear. Enjoy decrim. Don’t mock it, or you work against us.
Can I buy a pipe at the Freedom Rally?
Again, no. Sales of paraphernalia are illegal in Massachusetts, and BPD do scope out what our vendors are offering. We have had vendors told they could not sell the same rolling papers that are available at the 7-11 on Charles Street, 3 blocks away, because the event itself made the papers paraphernalia — that they would more likely be used to smoke marijuana than anything legal.
Ahem. Unlike the ones sold at the foot of Beacon Hill? No paraphernalia sales on the Common.
If you are looking for a nice piece of glass artwork, visit The Hempest on Newbury Street (for tobacco use only!).
I saw this dude selling brownies…
Does he have a food vending permit? If not, we warn you with the following:
CHEECH: Yo man, that’s some heavy shit. What is in this shit, man?
CHONG: It’s mostly Maui Wowie, but it’s got a little bit of Labrador in it.
CHEECH: Labrador? What’s Labrador?
CHONG: It’s dogshit.
Funny, huh? What if it’s the heroin that some asshole baked into foods and distributed at the 2006 Seattle Hempfest, that led to 19 people being hospitalized?
You can only pretend to know what is in that brownie, cookie, Rice Krispie treat, or space cake. That is, until it is too late for you to do anything about it. Stay away from strange foods from people you do not know. The best thing to happen to you is you’ll just get ripped off.
All authorized food vendors will be required to wear a Boston Freedom Rally Vendor Pass at all times for identification.
What about Salvia?
The sale of salvia divinorum in the City of Boston has been made into a civil infraction, with a fine of $300 for each sale. Selling salvia (the plant material of which is still legal and unregulated under Massachusetts law) is at your own risk.
Using salvia is still legal, but MassCann asks that you be responsible in your use of this short-acting but potentially powerful hallucinogen, whether at the Freedom Rally or elsewhere. If you decide to use it, have a sober guide or two to make sure the people in your group are not wandering into dangerous situations. Salvia is a discorporative (you sense leaving your body) and dissociative (you lose the sense of being connected to other living people) hallucinogen, and should not be taken without careful, adult contemplation of the reasons for using it and the potential outcomes of use.
So I bring my bowl and my weed to the Common, light up in a bunch of circles and try to have a good time. What’s the worst that can happen to me?
You can catch a cold, the flu, or other infections from shared smoke ware. Bring pre-packaged alcohol swabs (available at any pharmacy) or anti-bacterial wipes and wipe the mouthpiece and handle, before using it to smoke your favored legal substance. Please dispose of wipes and packaging in the nearest trash receptacle!
You can dehydrate — lots of people fail to drink enough water or non-alcoholic fluids, so if you are choosing to smoke, make sure you are hydrated. We will have beverages for sale from our vendors and MassCann itself. HINT: If you want to help make marijuana legal, BUY FROM MASSCANN. We get the greatest contribution when people buy drinks directly from us.
You can be injured in any mosh pit, so unless you consent, STEP BACK.
You can get a sunburn, so sunscreen or protective clothing are a must.
You can be cited for possession of marijuana, and have your less-than-one-ounce plus smoking materials seized, be issued a $100 civil fine (be honest!), and be free to do what you wish afterward. Be aware that subsequent offenses will carry additional $100 fines.
Is there anything else I should know?
Please do not litter.
BOSTON COMMON IS A DRUG-FREE PARK. This means that a mandatory two year minimum sentence will be imposed upon anyone convicted of distributing a controlled substance or possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute on or within one hundred feet of the Common.
NEVER CONSENT TO A SEARCH OF YOURSELF OR POSSESSIONS. The police must have a warrant or arrest you BEFORE they can legally search you. You have a right to enter the premises without being searched.
DO NOT RESIST AND DO NOT CONFESS. If arrested, do not resist, do not confess. Do not answer any questions, except to provide your name, address, date of birth, and mother’s maiden name.