The Freedom Rally, held annually on the Boston Common green is definitely a festival conceived, organized and run by potheads. At 1 p.m. Saturday, an hour into the festival, there were a few scattered group of confused white teenagers in front of a stage watching a group of middle-aged, half-enthusiastic musicians perform. The band, Herbal Nation, played slow tempo funk-soul. During the last chorus of their final song, their front-woman, T-Buck, repeated the line "We love the earth" for three minutes straight while the balding drummer jammed on his miniscule electronic drum set. They received sparse bits of applause while they left the stage and the singer, happily exclaimed, "Smoke more pot, we love you."
The festival is meant to rally supporters of marijuana, to get them involved in voting toward the reform of laws against marijuana, and to attract media attention in order for the public to take the issues discussed during the rally seriously. Despite its slow start, which may have been due to the overcast weather, pot users and supporters eventually arrived in large numbers. Kristopher T. Krane, the associate director of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws [NORML], speculated the number of people who would at least travel through the festival would reach 30,000 to 40,000.
Around 3 p.m. things started picking up and the booths set up by various sponsors, such as High Times, Grammas For Ganja and Salvia Zone began attracting crowds. The businesses and organizations were able to gain supporters, and express their views on the many issues focused on during the speeches. It is this down to earth approach that allows the kingpins of the pro pot community to try to create the changes they support, which is the overall goal of the festival. Steve Bloom, the editor of High Times magazine, said that it is the key to the progression of legalizing medicinal marijuana. He hopes that festivals like this one in Boston lead to complete legalization of marijuana use.
"You have to have active groups, active leaders, quick response," he said. He also said groups such as NORML have to "keep a constant flow of information about the war against pot so we know what we're up against."
The beginning of the festival saw an abundance of young men and women in Bob Marley shirts playing with hackey sacks. They ignored the speakers and peered though bloodshot eye looking for a place to smoke. But with the variety of subjects touched on and the fast-paced changing of acts on stage, the initial novelty of a pot festival bloomed into a haven of knowledge. The burnt old men who were angry that the promotional plastic mock marijuana leaves on their necklace didn't get them high were overshadowed by the fact that there was eventually a perceptive, open crowd absorbing most of the speaker's thoughts and feelings on marijuana.