‘Hempfest’ is coming. And it’s going to be a little different this year.
Here’s what you need to know about the Sept. 21 Boston Freedom Rally.
The Boston Freedom Rally, unofficially known as ‘Hempfest,’ is scaling back for its 30th anniversary.
The rally, which usually runs for three days, is restrained to just one this year after a slew of complaints following the 2018 event. Parks officials alleged the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (MassCann) violated its permit by allowing people to drive vehicles on the Boston Common and smoke in the park. Critics also said the weekend left the park “a complete trash heap.”
This year, MassCann has blocked off seven hours for cleanup the day after this year’s rally to “make sure we’re getting every last bit of trash,” press secretary Maggie Kinsella said. They’re also discouraging the use of single-use plastics at the event.
Kinsella said the organization is expecting a packed rally now that it’s been cut into one Saturday, so they plan to space out vendors to make sure rally-goers don’t get too cramped.
‘Hempfest,’ which was founded as a way to practice civil disobedience, may seem a little less edgy now that recreational marijuana is legal in Massachusetts. However, public consumption — which organizers are neither promoting nor dissuading — is still banned. Violations could cost you up to $100.
Kinsella stressed the importance of knowing the laws to make sure any civil disobedience you’re practicing is intentional. MassCann discourages buying or selling weed at the rally, and though you can possess an ounce of marijuana legally, you can be arrested for less than one ounce if you intend to sell.
As far as buying goes, Kinsella said to stay away from the guy who’s trying to sell you brownies. “You can only pretend to know what is in that brownie, cookie, Rice Krispie treat, or space cake,” the MassCann website advises.
Rally-goers will also be met with food options aplenty alongside vendors selling glassware, apparel, and more. There’s also a 21+ area (they will be checking IDs) for cannabis product brands concerned about advertising their wares to minors. Cannabis and THC products will not be sold in this area either.
The focus of the event in the post-marijuana prohibition world is to educate people on cannabis and the stigma around using it, Kinsella said.
“We’re trying to just make sure that people get some good education,” she said. “Even though it’s been legalized, there’s still a lot of work to do.”
‘Hempfest’ features an “education village” where various organizations will set up booths to distribute information on all things weed. MassCann has also arranged for a large array of speakers to talk about their experiences in the marijuana world and for educational panels on topics such as marijuana as a health supplement and social justice in the weed industry. A full list of speakers and panel topics can be found on MassCann’s Instagram.
“It’s one of the most peaceful rallies that Boston has, and we’d like to keep it that way,” Kinsella said. “We just want to see people come and just kind of hang out for the day and learn about cannabis.”
‘Hempfest’ is coming. And it’s going to be a little different this year. Here’s what you need to know about the Sept. 21 Boston Freedom Rally. The Boston Freedom Rally, unofficially known as
Boston’s ‘Hempfest’ Approved for Only 1 Day, Not the Usual 3
Boston, MA – Every year, the Boston Common hosts the Boston Freedom Rally, commonly referred to as ‘Hempfest’: a celebration of all things marijuana-related. In previous years it has been a three-day event, yet after a host of complaints, it will be cut to only one day in September 2019.
Hempfest has live music, food vendors, and dozens of tents which sell merchandise, provide free presentations regarding cannabis, and generally educate the public about marijuana.
While many look forward to this celebration, some argue that the condition the Common is left in afterwards is unacceptable.
According to Boston.com, at a City Council meeting in November, Boston Parks Department officials complained of cars parked illegally on the Common, people smoking, and far too much garbage left everywhere.
The organizers of the event conceded that they might be able to fit everything into a two-day period, but they were dealt a blow recently when the Boston Parks Department Commissioner, Christopher Cook, said the event will only be permitted to run on Saturday, September 20th between 12pm and 8pm.
Why the strict time frame? Cook says it “. will ensure both that the park is protected from sustained damage and that the City can properly maintain permit conditions.”
Maggie Kinsella, press secretary for MassCann (the organization which runs Hempfest), was clearly disappointed, but hopeful for the future: “I think if we want to progress we have to compromise,” she said. “We’re certainly not happy about it, but we’re willing to work with the city, to let them get to know us.”
The Boston Freedom Rally was founded back in 1989, based off the original Hempfest in Seattle. It has grown significantly over the years, and now boasts that it is the second largest annual gathering of cannabis supporters in the world.
After this drastic reduction of their usual three-day format, it seems like it would be difficult to squeeze everything into one eight-hour period of time. However, this year, that’s what they’ll have to do. It’s hard to imagine this group getting too stressed out about it though.
Boston, MA Every year, the Boston Common hosts the Boston Freedom Rally, commonly referred to as 'Hempfest': a celebration of all things…