Submitted by DrugPossessionLaws.com
From the grassy area before the stage, groups of young people stood together and watched the live music. One young girl dressed in a long dress sat on a blanket and held up a sign that said "Does Anyone Have Hemp?"
She was posing to be in a picture but her boy friend stopped the photo before it was taken, saying "I don't want the media to take any pictures. I don't want people to think a bunch of kids came here and just did a bunch of drugs."
But that wasn't what it was about really. Yes, there were young people rolling blunts and smoking joints in public view on the Boston Common during the Freedom Rally Sept. 15, but there was so much more to it than that. There were thousands of people from different states, different backgrounds coming together peacefully to listen to music, eat delicious food, and listen to activists, politicians and even law enforcement use their freedom of speech to speak out against prohibition of marijuana.
Doug Greene of New York attended the rally to represent the Empire State Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Medical Laws (NORML), of which he is a legislative director. He is also a co-founder of Cures Not Wars.
He and other NORML representatives handed out information to concert-goers and help promote membership. Greene said he's been attending the Freedom Rally in Boston for several years, though this was the first year he was one of the guest speakers to take the stage. He said he hopes to make people aware of extreme policies in his home state of New York that have prompted him to take a stand.
"In New York, we're still a very repressed state in terms of our laws," he said.
The Stop and Frisk Policy, he said, supports police practices that result in the arrests of over 50,000 people, "mostly young men of color." Greene said they are convicted of low-level misdemeanor charges rather than the ticket that was promised during decriminalization efforts carried out in 1977.
"The police department stops and frisks hundreds of thousands of people per year and tricks or asks them to take it out, then it's in public," Greene said. "If it's burning or open in public view, it's a low-level misdemeanor."
Greene said he hopes voters like those who attended the rally can help to make a difference.
Meanwhile at the entrance of the Freedom Rally Michael of Maine was handing out informational pamphlets to everyone who walked by him about the New England Grass Roots Institute, a school opening Nov. 15 in a to-be-determined location south of Boston.
Michael said the institute will teach the public about cannabis, in terms of medical usage. He said they plan to tour senior citizen facilities to teach residents there about their options.
"Perhaps people will want to go to cannabis instead of harder drugs, as they get older," he said.
Michael, a patient and 40-year activist, was educated at Oaksterdam University in California, the only certified cannabis school, until the school opens in Massachusetts.
Michael said he's working to spread the word on medical benefits, not to promote legalization. Massachusetts voters will decide on allowing cannabis to become a medical option during the November election. Michael said public polls are promising.
"It's going to pass, we've never seen a polling that high," he said.