Pubdate: Mon, 22 Sep 2003
Source: Massachusetts Daily Collegian (MA Edu)
Copyright: 2003 Daily Collegian
Contact: 413-545-1592
Author: Dan O'Brien
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Note: Publication of University of Massachusetts


BOSTON - Thousands of pot smokers and marijuana supporters rallied for support
of marijuana legalization on Boston Common Saturday at the 14th annual Freedom

Forty-five people were arrested according to published reports, all for
marijuana possession and distribution. A fair number of people did not seem to
mind the presence of law enforcement, as droves of men, women, and some
children found seats on the lawn to enjoy the sights, music, beautiful weather,
and in some cases a hit of pot smoke from a tobacco pipe.

The event featured many speakers, musicians, and vendors with gifts and clothes
- - many of which were created from hemp, a legal derivative from the marijuana
plant - for sale. At one point the activists and musicians stepped aside to
allow for a hemp fashion show, in which many lucky models got to show off an
array of clothes made entirely out of hemp. The clothes ranged from pink skirts
to green sundresses and had just about everything in between.

Speakers of the rally called for an end to marijuana laws, saying that
government resources could be better spent elsewhere. Countless speakers
pleaded that the money spent on enforcement of marijuana laws could be better
spent on improving the state's education system.

"We need to take the money we spend on the war on drugs and put it into drug
education programs so we can educate people [on the effects of drugs,"] said
Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner as he publicly addressed the crowd.

Nationally, the government spends billions of dollars each year on the "War on

Turner said that people should support the legalization of marijuana for
medical purposes and said that by doing so would be a first step in complete
legalization of pot.

"We need to take the first step in the war on the War on Drugs," Turner said.

The councilman went on to say that prescription pot would be a much better
alternative to most of the medicine that is already on the market.

"You see these ads on TV for all these drugs that are out there. Then during
the ad they tell you about four or five other side effects that you can get
from taking them. With marijuana, you don't get any of that."

Artists performing on stage echoed Turner's views on illegal drugs. Some of
these performers included the band Scissorfight, who exclaimed to the crowd at
one point, "This song's about growing your own!"

The crowd had fewer people than the number expected by National Organizations
for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. The group anticipated between 50,000 and
75,000, but the number of attendees was somewhere just below 50,000.

While the number of people may have been slightly lower than expected, there
was still a large enough target audience for marketing ideas, products, and
political campaigns.

There was a large amount of campaigners for Congressman Dennis Kucinich
(D-Ohio), a candidate for President in 2004. The congressman does not support
the prohibition of marijuana.

In his literature that was handed out at the rally, he pointed out that
countries in Europe are turning away from "failed drug policies." He claims
that the rate of violent crime has been reduced throughout countries viewing
drug addiction as a medical problem. Kucinich does not provide actual numbers
to support his claims, however he does point out that in the United States
there is only one bed for every 10 drug addicts who apply for treatment.

Congressman Kucinich also points out the problem of racial bias by the criminal
justice system when arresting and prosecuting drug offenders.

"According to a Human Rights Watch report based on FBI statistics, blacks were
arrested on drug charges at nearly five times the rate of whites. Drug use is
consistent across racial and socioeconomic lines - yet in the state of New
York, for example, 94 percent of incarcerated drug offenders are Latino or
African-American, mostly from poor communities," said Kucinich, whose message
was already being felt among the thousands of marijuana supporters.

Also marketing to people of college age were the creators of Seat of Our Pants
productions, the group that produced a DVD movie of people doing funny and odd
things. The DVD is based on the book "Get Stoned and Read This Book:" by Gordon
G. Gourd.

The book, which is primarily photos, poems, and other works of art, has been in
print for five years, according to Rudy Seigel of Seat of Our Pants.

"This is a great venue for us," Seigel said. "Our target is the 18-30 age
bracket, and in a college town like Boston, there are around 350,000 [people of
that age.]"

The book's primary distributor is the store Urban Outfitters, which has a large
consumer base of 18-30-year-old people. The book has sold over 50,000 copies
since it was released at Urban Outfitters 3 years ago.
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