June 14, 2020


As long-time dedicated activists, we are in awe of the world-shaking Black Lives Matter movement. This popular uprising, continuing in a tradition of such movements around the world throughout history, is something that reflects the very best of grassroots activism. MassCann supports this uprising and offers what resources we have unconditionally.

Because of a history of violent racist policing towards Black people in the United States, in particular associated with cannabis, Black voices have been unjustly silenced from the greater community (with cannabis activism being no exception). Those of us involved with MassCann feel we have a duty to help create a society where Black people are comfortable being associated with cannabis sans qualification.

In the service of that goal, we wish to provide a platform for any and all voices from those communities via our educational village (and its virtual compliment). This platform was built through years of volunteer time and energy to educate the public, and those tasked with crafting legislation and regulations related to cannabis, on the systemic racism mobilized through prohibition and Jim Crow laws in the United States.  The systemic racism that was so prevalent in the enforcement of cannabis laws throughout the history of this Country is an abhorrent testament to that disgusting legacy.

The evident systemic racism in the prosecution of cannabis “crimes”, including the life altering consequences thereafter, were a manifestation of that systemic racism that was so grotesque as to be intentionally designed to sustain a vicious cycle of oppression.  That systemic racism is what needs to change and MassCann is committed to doing everything in its power to ensure that cycle comes to an end entirely.

For over 30 years, MassCann has fought against the prohibition of cannabis by making it very clear to lawmakers, regulators and the public that such prohibition is rooted in racism (something we continue to make a core component of our mission to this day). One of the main themes of our Education Village, in that spirit, is explicitly designed to demonstrate that Harry Anslinger and Richard Nixon doubled down on cannabis prohibition specifically because of their racist outlook.

Along with MassCann’s work to promote education about the racist history of prohibition and the medicinal properties of cannabis, we also work diligently to stay on top of the legislative/regulatory work necessary to ensure ideological demands are codified into statute. MassCann has worked for years to gather signatures for non-binding referendum showing what percentage support for cannabis legalization existed among Massachusetts citizens (and where that support existed). That work was integral to laying the groundwork for eventual citizens initiatives (including the 2008 decriminalization initiative, the 2012 medical marijuana law, and the eventual 2016  Legalization bill). Unfortunately since then, legal shenanigans have made things much more difficult for Black entrepreneurs to open a business (and thus our fight goes on).

The yearly Boston Freedom Rally has been the largest example of how a diverse cannabis community can come together with peace and love (something we have been doing for decades), and that welcoming spirit is what we continue to strive to achieve. Current directors are working to specifically schedule our monthly meetings in areas of Boston and across Massachusetts to reach all communities (although that work has, sadly, been delayed by the ongoing pandemic).

In the interim, we have moved our monthly directors meetings to a virtual format (which will hopefully allow expanded access for members from across the Commonwealth). As an organization, we are working towards laws that will facilitate expungement of cannabis convictions (as such unjust convictions overwhelmingly targeted Black and Brown communities) while also supporting Black owned businesses through our own meetings and events. We welcome all members who may wish to join in furtherance of our strategic aim to ensure MassCann (along with all of our organizational resources) are a platform for fighting racism in all its forms.

We also appreciate those of you who took the time to read through this letter; as an organization, we felt it important to say something more than a short statement of support for Black lives (and the protests that have so rightfully brought those voices to the forefront of our national conversation). Laying out our strategic aims, welcoming any and all suggestions as to what we can do going forward, and working to ensure MassCann will continue to be an ally in the fight against racism in all its forms is something we felt warranted an in depth explanation to our members and the public. To provide us with that feedback, or to reach out with any other questions, please feel free to visit https://masscann.org.

Black lives matter.

-The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition

Why Us? Why Now? Why You?

The mission of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (MassCann) is to educate the Public in the Commonwealth about Cannabis Sativa’s potential as an ecologically sound resource, medicine, and recreational substance, and build a consensus for a more moral and rational public policy regarding all uses of the cannabis plant.

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While society obviously — obviously to us — has the right to regulate our relationship to marijuana (just as it does our relationship with water or milk or wine) to be rational and decent such regulation must take at least these two things into account:

First, responsible adults have a default right to consume anything they choose, only provided that in so doing they do not interfere with the rights of others. Second, like medical treatments, public policies that inflict far more damage than the condition they are supposed to remedy make no sense.

Current regulation of marijuana fails both of these points egregiously. In particular, no matter what you believe about the evils of marijuana, those evils do not remotely approach the costs and consequences of destroying 700,000 families a year.

More specifically, MASSCANN campaigns for the legalization of hemp agriculture, expanding medical marijuana programs, and moving towards regulation of the herb. The drug war armory of mandatory minimums, asset forfeiture, license confiscation, urine testing, and so on has been going on for far too long.

Our core position is the regulation of cultivation, ownership, and distribution of Cannabis among adults is best approached in legality. The goal is getting this plant into a regulated market and keeping people out of jail. The education of cultural opinion will progress society towards compassion and add tax revenue to rebuild a broken infrastructure.

In 1992 we and our friends and allies gathered 14,000 signatures for a petition supporting the creation of a marijuana therapeutic research program. In 1997 the same group helped organize a successful campaign to allow medical necessity as a defense for marijuana possession. In 1999 we gathered more than 20,000 signatures for a petition on the decriminalization of marijuana. In 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2010 we placed cannabis reform questions on the ballot in State Senate and State Representative Districts. All were approved. We have brought lawsuits against municipal authorities to assure the right of assembly for those urging for drug policy reform and gather and distribute news of local events — lectures, research, actions, outrages — of interest to the decrim community. Each year we organize the world’s second largest rally for marijuana decriminalization” (High Times): The Freedom Rally, usually held on Boston Common in the third week of September.

If these activities seem worthwhile to you, please join us. Please also consider subscribing to our Events and Announcements list.

Please free to leave suggestions or comments or to get in touch with us for any reason. If you need to reach us by phone, our message machine is at 781-944-2266. The Blue Snails find us more often than not at MassCann, P.O. Box 211, Reading, MA 01867-0366.

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