Pubdate: Sun, 19 Sep 2004
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Page: B5
Copyright: 2004 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: Jack Encarnacao, Globe Correspondent
Cited: Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


Keith Saunders had expected to use a microphone yesterday to address
tens of thousands who support the decriminalization of marijuana.
Instead, he needed only a megaphone to be heard by the several hundred
who showed up at the gathering, the 15th annual Boston Freedom Rally.

"You folks came out in a hurricane because you believe in this so
much," Saunders said to the cheers of enthusiasts, who were jammed
into small tents on a corner of the Boston Common, many of whose feet
were buried in mud. Saunders and other organizers of what is normally
one of the nation's largest annual marijuana culture festivals didn't
get the 40,000 people they had expected. Only about 400 showed up in
the driving rain, and only four of the expected 50 vendors turned out
to hawk T-shirts, posters, and CDs.

Leaders of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, which had
organized the event, stayed light-hearted about the dousing that set
back the turnout.

Bill Downing, president of the coalition, cited the hazard of using
electricity in heavy rain. Though some musicians turned out to beat
drums and to strum acoustic guitars, several bands scheduled to
perform with electric instruments could not plug into generators.

"All the major bands couldn't play," Downing said, leaning against a
trailer of equipment made useless by the persistent rain. "We lost
basically all the entertainment."

Downing lauded those who still turned out as "hardcore."

Boston police, who, organizers said, normally assign dozens of
officers to the gathering, had a much smaller presence as well.
Because the cannabis enthusiasts did not hold a major rally, the
police presence planned for the event was not necessary, said a police
spokeswoman, Nadine Taylor-Miller.

Those who attended did not allow the weather to dampen their

"It's not about the amount of people that showed up," said Mark
Spielman, 26, who made the trip from Toronto and had no problem wading
through the muddy grounds in his sandals. "It's about the cause." 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake