Bill Downing is a MassCann/NORML Board Member and is filling in for Mike Cann this week.

For many years, there has been a one special weekend where like-minded people congregate on Boston Common to sing and dance, bask in the sun, find new friends, and of course, smoke marijuana.

That last part—smoking marijuana—has always been a big part of the Freedom Rally.

Prudish folks see those who smoke cannabis in public as shameless scofflaws, and they’re right. We Freedom Rally activists are not the least bit ashamed that we enjoy cannabis. Quite the contrary.

We are PROUD to be part of the cannabis community and don’t care who knows it.

As for being scofflaws? Damn right! Just like our local shameless scofflaw and hero, Henry David Thoreau, we don’t shrug our shoulders to injustice. We demonstrate how unjust the law is by purposefully, publicly breaking that law and suffering the consequences thereof, come what may. This accomplishes many things, but most importantly, it replaces closet fear with out-ed pride.

This is a major unspoken victory we win every year at the Freedom Rally.

Photo from the 2011 Freedom Rally

Where so many of us are frightened by the prohibition into deep, dark closets, it is refreshing to find fellowship with those of us who have decided we will no longer be afraid. Freedom Rally smokers have decided to live as the free Americans—the most basic constitutional principal we hold dear, the very basis of the design of our nation, is that citizens should be free from unreasonable governmental intrusions in our lives.

Anti-marijuana laws were the result of racist fear-mongering from the ’20s and ’30s.

Most Americans did not realize the simple fact that “cannabis,” a drug Grandma took for rheumatism, was same plant as “marijuana,” posed then as a scary drug used by Mexicans and blacks, particularly blacks who listen to and play the “devil’s music”—jazz. Marijuana’s prohibition in 1937 was a racially motivated scam that, to this day, is effectively providing good results for those who hate. Look no further than a ACLU report released June 4 of this year, which found “Overwhelming Racial Bias in Marijuana Arrests.”

All of us at the Freedom Rally share a vision of a much better America. You can feel it in the air (and I’m not referring to the smoke).

We understand the marijuana laws are racist. We understand that they deny us our oldest and safest medicine. We understand that they allow our government to intrude in our lives to a degree that cannot be justified.

That shared vision of a better America is something each and every one of us at the Freedom Rally takes the time and makes the effort to build. Why do we do it—one might ask?

Because we are the true patriots, who love America and take the time and make the effort to bring our vision of a better America to reality. That is what makes me feel so proud and so happy with every face I see at the Freedom Rally. That’s what makes us all feel as though we are among friends at the Freedom Rally.

Two days of a little heaven on earth.



  1. Kathryn Rifkin Kathryn Rifkin says:

    Well said and hear, hear!

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