Music and arts fest took over Spencer Fairgrounds for trailblazing display of cannabis and community
The grassroots fight for cannabis rights in Massachusetts has been raging for decades, and continues to this day in front of the state’s Cannabis Control Commission. Still, some may have been convinced that the war might well be won after spending time in Spencer at the first annual TerpTown Throwdown last weekend.
Described as the “East Coast’s first cannabis and music festival” by organizer Phil Hardy of the Hardy Consultants, the Throwdown played host to a truly joyous gathering despite temperatures topping nearly 90 degrees by midafternoon. The mercury readings aside, attendees took in super sights and sounds, from musical acts—mostly a blend of rock and reggae—to merch and grub ranging from Thai food to carnival staples. There was seemingly something for everyone, at least everyone in the cannabis community, to enjoy.
As Matt from Assonet described, “This was my first experience at a paid cannabis festival and I can’t say enough about the awesome people, great music, and relaxed vibes. … I’ll be coming back if they host another one.”
Robert Hawco, who co-hosts The Hawco and Carnell Show on the DisruptBoston network that I also work with, broadcast live from the event. “It’s really the best atmosphere I’ve ever been around at this kind of festival,” Hawco said. “A great spot that is far enough from civilization to allow us all the chance to relax while also being close enough for a day trip.”
The expansive Spencer Fair Grounds, hidden in gently rolling hills 10 miles outside of Worcester, proved to be an ideal setting for the large crowd. There was ample room for vendors and attendees alike to spread out and relax in the sunshine, me included.
“I can feel the love and light from everyone,” Hawco added. “That is really special.”
I had the same takeaway—even an afternoon rainstorm couldn’t put a damper on the festivities, as attendees selflessly assisted one another to secure tents and other valuables during the passing downpour.
A thorough but quickly moving security apparatus was in place to ensure attendees were 21-plus, while the small cadre of local police in attendance were mostly hands-off as they strolled the grounds throughout the day. Notably, there were no reported negative interactions between police and partygoers.
One interesting aspect of the fully permitted event was the “medicating area,” wherein registered medical cannabis patients were able to consume cannabis after verifying their medical marijuana patient registration with security and obtaining a green wristband (public consumption of recreational cannabis is currently illegal under state law).
For their part, the state’s regulatory body, the aforementioned Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), has been slow to roll out a proposed system for one- and three-day recreational consumption licenses (which would allow events such as the TerpTown Throwdown to facilitate social consumption of recreational cannabis for all attendees). That initiative, having been under consideration for nearly a year, was delayed until the fall of 2019 by a three-two vote at a CCC hearing in late May following the suggestion of Commissioner Kay Doyle. In its stead, medicating areas such as the one provided on Saturday in Spencer may well become the norm under an obscure provision of state law (Chap 94G, Section 13C) that allows consumption of medical cannabis in any location wherein cigarette smoking is permitted.
As such regulatory hurdles make clear, breaking new ground in an industry that is only just beginning to have its time in the sun can be difficult for even the most intelligent and well-intentioned industry insiders. However, considering the recent rapid pace of change in relation to cannabis laws (and the general societal stigma surrounding the plant), the trailblazing tenacity on full display in Spencer may soon come to be the norm in Mass and elsewhere.
Grant Smith is a Massachusetts medical cannabis patient, founder of Mass Patients for Home Delivery as well as a contributor to midnightmass.substack.com and The Young Jurks, which you can stream at anchor.fm/theyoungjurks or wherever else podcasts are streamed.
This article was produced with support from Midnight Mass and The Young Jurks.
Grant Smith Ellis is a Massachusetts medical cannabis patient, advocate and award winning reporter. He serves as the Chairperson of the Board for the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (MassCann) and attends law school at New England Law | Boston. Grant welcomes support via Patreon.com/GrantSmithEllis, where he provides early access to his on-the-ground reporting for subscribers.