The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (MASS CANN), state affiliate of NORML, will hold its 11th Annual Freedom Rally to protest marijuana prohibition on Saturday, September 16, from Noon to 6:00 pm, on Boston Common.
Since its inception in 1989, The MASS CANN/NORML Rally has grown to one of the largest events of its kind in the world, routinely attracting crowds of 50,000 to 100,000, and garnering national and international media attention. The Rally has been the focal point of MASS CANN/NORML’s efforts to generate massive public support for medical marijuana, reduction of penalties for marijuana crimes and the repeal of mandatory minimum laws, and the reform of marijuana laws generally.
Last year’s Rally launched a major petition signature drive for a proposed state law authorizing medical cannabis and decriminalizing marijuana possession: In the process, we registered hundreds of young people to vote. Our yearly legal battles with a hostile Mayor’s office to secure our lawfully entitled permits for the Rally-battles we have always won, thanks in part to ACLU support-have long made MASS CANN/NORML an important defender of 1st Amendment rights in this state.
The theme of this year’s Rally is “Vote Freedom”. Our message is: If you want to change the society you live in, organize, get active, and VOTE. Especially in an election year, no message could be more vital in raising the consciousness of voters around the seriousness of the legalization issue. As we struggle to end the Drug War, expose the corruption of current drug policy, and take the government to task for its cruel and unusual punishment of drug offenders, we must remember to exercise the freedoms we already possess. To emphasize our focus on getting out the vote, we will once again be registering people to vote at the rally.
As always, the afternoon will feature an exciting line-up of speakers and musicians. Harry Browne, the Libertarian Party candidate for president, will be a featured guest. Richard Velez-a photojournalist from Colombia, who received death threats for exposing the corruption of U.S. anti-drug efforts in his country-and Martha Soto, of the human rights organization “Colombia Vive,” will contribute (for the first time at a MASS CANN/NORML Rally) a crucial focus on international issues in the Drug War.
We will also welcome back the ever-popular Elvy Musikka (one of only 8 Americans who receive medical marijuana from the Federal Government), and Ann McCormick, the mother of Todd McCormick, a primary victim of the high-profile, 1997 Marijuana Mansion raid. (Todd is currently serving time in federal prison, where he suffers severe and ongoing persecution, including solitary confinement and denial of medical attention.) We are also pleased to be hosting such prominent bands as Lil Wolf and the Mojos (featuring Boston’s all-time favorite blues singer, the great Shirley Lewis), local folk legend Jim Kweskin, and the hyper-energetic Tree-all dedicated supporters of our Cause.
There will be a press conference on Friday, September 15, at 4:00 pm on the State House steps. Press passes will be available at the Media Tent, backstage at the Rally.
For a list of sponsors and other info visit: www.masscann.org/Rally00/PR.htm