Rally Brings Thousands To Common

September 25, 2008

Massachusetts — Thousands of marijuana enthusiasts gathered at Boston Common Saturday afternoon for the 19th annual Freedom Rally to celebrate marijuana and raise awareness about “Question 2” on the November election ballots.

If passed, “Question 2” would decriminalize the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana for individuals over 18 years of age, decreasing the maximum fine for possession from $500 to $100 and eliminating jail time altogether. Individuals under the age of 18 must complete a drug awareness program and provide community service along with the fine.

The rally included performances from nearly a dozen musical acts and guest speakers, and was sponsored by the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition and the Massachusetts chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Event organizers expected 30,000 to 40,000 people to support the rally in the Common, NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said.

St. Pierre also said he expected between 50 and 100 individuals to be arrested for marijuana possession and other offenses.

“The Boston police are quite adversarial to this event,” he said.

Boston Police Sgt. William Ridge said a number of people under the age of 18 had been arrested and projected that there would be more.

BPD spokesman Eddy Crispin said two individuals were arrested at the rally and 72 were given a court summons.

NORML founder Keith Stroup said the burgeoning number of marijuana users aged 55 and older will help pass the initiative due to their higher voter turnout rates. In order for the initiative to pass, Question 2 needs to get 51 percent. Stroup said he expected voter turnout to be around 60 percent.

“It’s time for this country to move on from this issue,” Stroup said.

Christine Black, the 17-year-old granddaughter of Grammas for Ganja Executive Director Jeanne “Magic” Ferguson, spoke to the crowd about her support for the decriminalization of marijuana after seeing friends being arrested as juveniles for the non-violent crime of marijuana possession and “throwing their lives away” because of it.

Source: Daily Free Press

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