YOUR STUDY GUIDE TO
THE 25TH MASSCANN/NORML BOSTON FREEDOM RALLY”
BY MIKE CANN OF DIGBOSTON
Twenty-five years is a long time to uphold any tradition, let alone one that has faced as many hurdles as the MassCann/NORML Boston Freedom Rally. I should know, as I’ve helped plan the party in the past, and remain an avid booster and participant. This year’s glorious event is scheduled for the weekend of September 13 and 14 on Boston Common. And while people claim that every year will be the biggest spectacle yet, this time it really is the most ambitious Freedom Rally to date. Here’s what to expect …
Last year, the city of Boston curtailed the hours on MassCann’s first-ever two-day rally, absurdly citing a lack of available law enforcement coverage. Somehow, their stunt was partially held up in court. With last year’s media attention rightfully focused on that silly excuse – and with a new mayor who has campaigned on streamlining the permitting process – there are some signs that things will go smoothly, though you never really know. Over the past 25 years, MassCann has successfully sued the City of Boston four times in order to force injunctions that allowed the rally to take place. If there’s any last minute permitting drama this year, expect MassCann to sue with the assistance of its ACLU team, and to prevail as usual.
Lots of speeches
For the first time in its history, MassCann will organize a Northeastern Institute of Cannabis-sponsored Hemposium tent with panelists and speakers all throughout the weekend. Says Chris Foye of NIC and MassCann: “[MassCann President] Cara [Crabb-Burnham] and I were both at the Seattle Hempfest absorbing their Hemposium tent, and we had to bring it to our event. It’s been missing from the rally; the big stage speeches are great, but in the tent is where the real discussion takes place. Q&A sessions with our speakers, that’s what we aim to bring.” In the scrum, be sure to look for Mickey Martin from the NIC, who is a returning speaker and the sponsor of the new symposium tent.
Awesome, awesome speakers
For starters: Mikey Adams of WEEI’s “The Planet Mikey Show,” WAAF’s Mike Hsu, High Times magazine’s Danny Danko and Rick Cusick, Maine state Rep. Diane Russell, perennial presidential hopeful Vermin Supreme, punk rock and DIY art icon Dave Tree, NORML Founder Keith Stroup, DigBoston News Editor Chris Faraone, and of course, me.
New smoking/vaping fines
Boston recently enacted a $250 fine for tobacco, cannabis, or any other substance if it’s smoked or vaped in a public park. It remains to be seen how far police will enforce the measure, but my suggestion if you want to smoke: Bring a video camera and use it if there’s any interaction with police over a civil, noncriminal infraction. Most cops would rather go for someone who is not recording them.
Music for that grass
This year MassCann will expand its aural offerings. A newly-added intimate side stage, Reggae on the Mount, will feature acts including Mighty Mystic, Soul Rebel Project, Dis-N-Dat Band, High Hopes Band, Dubbest Reggae, and Build Machine. Other artists to look out for: Planetoid, Tigerman Woah!, Reks, Myster DL, DJ Slim, and Big Ol’ Dirty Bucket. And of course don’t miss a moment of Rob Potylo, a Freedom Rally veteran performer who is bringing along a special friend to introduce him, Ernie Boch Jr.
We’ve talked a lot in this column, before and after his passing in October 2013, about the activism and spirit of Michael L. Malta, also known as the King of Pot, or KOP. Malta was a fixture in the local marijuana reform movement, and specifically at the Freedom Rally, where he’d often be found giving away KOP T-shirts. Expect lots of KOP goodies for the crowd as speakers honor the King, and be sure to visit his official Boston Common landmark, Mount Michael Malta, where a memorial bench now sits thanks to Glenn Prescott, Red Blaza, and friends and family members of the Maltas. Says Blaza, “For the rally, you can find me at the bench, Michael L. Malta’s bench. There will be tens of thousands, I want to be with the ones that find his memorial bench.”
— THANK YOU MIKE CANN FOR THIS WONDERFUL ARTICLE AS WELL AS ALL YOUR YEARS GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND FOR THE CAUSE!