“We need to bring in people who know better than we do, that’s kind of been our success model.”
While the Massachusetts cannabis kaliedoscope isn’t close to oversaturated—we’re hardcore devotees, so that would be impossible, the more the better and all—we sure do have a promising number of recurring green gatherings. Without even having to leave the Hub there’s the iconic MassCann Freedom Rally, which took place on Sept. 18 this year, and the cannabis convention NECANN which has grown into a massive three-day blowout since its humble inception in 2014.
Remarkably, this booming market’s also home to yet another destination spectacle, the wholly unique and ambitious Boston Cannabis Week. Held from Sept. 20 to 26, BCW will “cater to the New England cannabis community” with “art, music, education, networking, health & wellness, golf, fashion, and cuisine,” with a “focus [on] normalizing cannabis in our communities and providing platforms for education, networking, open dialogue, and the arts.” There’s also a block party at Underground at Ink Block sponsored by Weedmaps and featuring Freddie Gibbs, Mick Jenkins, Skyzoo, Termanology, Jazzmyn RED, and Guru Sanaal. Fuck yeah.
It’s an understatement to say BCW has grown and evolved since its debut incarnation, especially considering the hurdles of this past year.
“In 2016, I was the booking agent at Hard Rock in Boston, and I was doing a show with Redman,” said Lisa Finelli Fallon, who co-founded BCW with business partner Scott Bettano. “Scott crashed the show and asked if I could book Redman and Method Man in three months for the Boston Freedom Rally and I was like, Yeah, okay. We went and raised the money and we did the show.”
But while the Freedom Rally is typically one or two days only, Finelli Fallon and her team wanted to go longer. And kids, that’s where Boston Cannabis Week comes from.
“We launched in 2019 with five events over the course of a week, and in year one I feel like we came out strong, with a good support system and good programming,” Finelli Fallon said. “We even had a lot of press and were featured in Rolling Stone for our work on social equity.”
“Going into year two, we had a lot of ideas of what we were going to do,” she added. But of course the pandemic struck, killing their chance of following up with year two in-person events last September.
“So we did a full week of virtual programming,” Finelli Fallon said. “I said to Scott, If we get a thousand people, I’ll be shocked, because everyone is over virtual. We ended up getting almost 30,000 attendees for the week. So we started to get more attention nationally, even all over the world.”
For 2021, BCW is piling it on beyond the concert headliners. For starters, their tandem creative agency, BCW Beyond will honor its first scholarship recipients: Vanessa Jean-Baptiste of the Brockton rec shop Legal Greens, Marquis Neal of Lifted Smoking Goods, and Devin Alexander and Bryce Hall of Rolling Releaf. Recipients will receive ongoing agency support and be featured at BCW events like Fashion on Fire, a gear and glass art gallery showcasing sustainable hemp fashion designers and bowl blowers galore. “For year three, we’re doubling up, with in-person and virtual events happening at the same time,” Finelli Fallon said.
“Really we’re tripling up,” said BCW Programming Director Cara Crabb-Burnham, “because we have in-person events, virtual events, and prerecorded events.”
“The thing about Scott and myself is that we know we aren’t the ones to be leading everything,” Finelli Fallon said. “We need to bring in people who know better than we do, and that’s kind of been our success model, we bring in people who are just as passionate about not only the activism but the plant itself and everything it stands for.”
“I think BCW continues to grow because it’s founded by people who love Boston, who smoke weed, who interact with the plant, and who have always interacted with the reckoning of illegality,” Crabb-Burnham said. “It creates a solid foundation for people who are going to an event-based week about cannabis in Boston.”
“As part of our mission,” Finelli Fallon added, “we will never charge for education, and we will never charge for networking. It is our responsibility to provide that to the community.”
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.