Pot Rally Goes On Despite National Tragedy

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Sep 20, 2001.

  1. By Ed Oliver
    Source: Massachusetts News

    Despite cancellation of many weekend events out of respect for the victims of terrorist attacks last week, an estimated 10,000 people still gathered at Boston Common on Saturday for an annual rally for the legalization of marijuana.
    The smell of pot hung in the air over groups of young people openly passing joints and smoking pipes while sitting on the grass.

    Uniformed police and park rangers stood on the peripheries of the crowd in small clusters, while some rode on horseback. Plainclothes police infiltrated the crowd making arrests.

    Boston Police told MassNews there were 34 arrests this year, which were mostly drug-related. Attendance was down from last year when there were 40,000 rally-goers and 69 arrests.

    A Charlestown girl, who was smoking a joint with her friends, told MassNews, “I believe it should be legalized. I don’t believe the cops should harass you for smoking weed. Come on, it’s grown from the earth. They should be concerned about why people are trying to kill us and blow up our country or someone sticking a needle in their arm rather than about me sitting here smoking on a joint.”

    A protester carrying a sign that compared the war on drugs to terrorism got into a shouting match with a man who said he would sign a petition that marijuana should be legalized, but he does not compare the war on drugs with what happened to the terrorism victims last week.

    Rock radio station WBCN sponsored and promoted the rally. WBCN is owned by CBS and is the flagship station for the New England Patriots.

    The radio station’s web-site says: “WBCN brings the 12th Annual MASS CANN Freedom Rally - the world's largest drug-policy rally - back to Boston on Saturday, September 15th. Join us on the Boston Common at high noon for food, hemp products and tons of info on marijuana. Check out music from local bands like Bleu, C60, Tree and Scissorfight.”

    Lea Cox, president of Concerned Citizens for Drug Prevention, told MassNews she was disturbed that the pot rally was not cancelled out of respect for the terror victims. “For them to hold this rally and break the law and smoke pot and sell drugs and drug paraphernalia is a disgrace to our nation. It’s the height of disrespect.”

    Answering Cox’s criticism, Bill Downing, president of The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, (MASS CANN), told MassNews, “There was a lot of controversy, a lot of debate amongst the leaders of our organization. The majority of the board voted to go ahead with the event today. I think it was because we don’t want terrorists writing our agendas for us.”

    However, Cox told MassNews, “There is absolutely no reason to legalize marijuana. It’s a very dangerous drug.” She said scientific information regarding the harmfulness of marijuana has been known for at least 25 years.

    Rather than deny that marijuana may be harmful, Downing, who described himself as a “devout conservative,” said he approaches the issue as one of personal responsibility.

    “If people want to screw themselves up with marijuana, it’s not our government’s job to play nursemaid and granny to all those people and try to save them from themselves.”

    MassNews asked Downing to comment on the fact that his organization and WBCN were promoting marijuana to kids that might not know of the health risks.

    “I think everybody in the world knows that inhaling smoke is bad for you. There’s just no question about it. It doesn’t matter if it is oak leaves, or cotton or marijuana.”

    There was a strong Libertarian Party presence at the rally. They worked the crowd collecting signatures for a ballot petition to eliminate the state income tax.

    Michael Cloud, Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate against John Kerry, told MassNews he was at the rally because personal responsibility is the price of liberty.

    “Do we really want to give government authority over our children, our families and our religious lives?” asked Cloud. “Or do we want to take it back so we can choose our own family values, our own responsibilities, and take our lives back in our hands?”

    Prospective libertarian candidate for governor Carla Howell stood on stage and inserted copies of the drug laws into a shredder to a cheering crowd. She pledged that if she is elected governor, she will “end the war against responsible marijuana users.”

    MassNews asked Howell what she would say to people who are worried that legalization of drugs would endanger their kids or harm society.

    Howell said the war on drugs makes things worse. “It encourages drug use, it encourages violent crime and it also encourages the government to violate our individual rights.”

    MassNews asked Howell if she would support age limits like with alcohol if drugs were legalized.

    “I certainly support parental authority to be the premiere determination to what a kid should or shouldn’t do,” said Howell.

    MassNews asked Howell to comment on rally promoters encouraging kids to smoke marijuana when the kids are not told about the potential harm to their bodies it can cause.

    Howell said, “I think that any drug or substance has the potential for doing harm. When we end the war on drugs, we can get responsible people to label the product, to be open about the real potential dangers. This allows a more reasonable dialogue and encourages kids to make more responsible choices.”

    Asked if she thought the rally should have been canceled out of respect for the victims of terrorism, Howell, who bowed her head and asked for a moment of silence for the victims while she was on stage, said it was a personal decision on how to handle the tragedy.

    There were signs the recent tragedy did affect the young people. Several of them waved American flags and the crowd sang, “This land is your land” and chanted “USA,” along with musicians on stage.

    Note: Young People Smoke Dope, Call For Legalization.

    Source: Massachusetts News (MA)
    Author: Ed Oliver
    Published: September 17, 2001
    Copyright: 2001 Massachusetts News, Inc
    Contact: editor@massnews.com
    Website: http://www.massnews.com/
    DL: http://www.massnews.com/9171pot.htm

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