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Councilors on pot rally: It's not the pot, it's the mess the pot smokers leave behind; well, OK, and maybe the smoking part

The City Council agreed today to hold a hearing on the annual Freedom Rally on Boston Common and whether it can be turned into a less of a mess or whether the three-day event has to be moved somewhere else.

City Councilor Josh Zakim (Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Fenway, Mission Hill) said he is a longtime supporter of liberalization of marijuana laws, but said he is just getting too many complaints about trash and cars parked on the Common during the annual September event - far more complaints than he said he gets about any other event on the Common, "one of the jewels of our city."

He said the hearing, which has yet to be scheduled, would look to see if there's a way to balance the First Amendment rights of Freedom Fest-goers with qualty-of-life issues raised by surrounding residents. He noted that one issue is all the toking up - smoking, of whatever substance, is illegal in Boston parks, including the Common.

"This is not about being for or against marijuana, said City Councilor Ed Flynn (Downtown, South Boston, South End, Chinatown), who co-sponsored the hearing request with Zakim. Flynn said both the Common and the Public Garden clean and safe for both Freedom Rally attendees and children, families, seniors, neighbors and tourists visiting "the oldest public space in the country."

No councilors spoke against the idea of a hearing or against the annual event.

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"safe for both Freedom Rally attendees and children, families, seniors,"

Oh yea I'm sure all the little kids feel safe whenever there was a neo-nazi rally.

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Read the actual remarks of City Councilors... Public Funded Stenographic Record can be requested via https://www.boston.gov/departments/city-council/andrea-campbell the more complete, more accurate Document than flawed lacking inaccurate transcript of video captions for hard of hearing folks.

Feedback, comment, suggestions, questions on Councilors' remarks can be sent via https://www.boston.gov/departments/city-council

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So a community gathering needs to be moved because the 1% in Beacon Hill don't want to have to see the hoi polloi? Lovely.

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Which community?

I mean, do you think most attendees are also Boston residents? I have a problem with the Hemp Fest in the same way I thought the Olympics were a bad idea - it degrades a public space for the benefit of non-residents with an event with dubious benefits to the local community.

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No, I know most are out-of-towners but I'm frankly not convinced this has anything to do with their real "concerns". Do the organizers of this, who also sued the city to stop from putting in place curb cuts (which do have a tangible benefit to the community), really care about anyone else in the public?

Why aren't they suggesting the organizers pay to have it cleaned up and working from there?

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It wouldn't surprise me to learn most Shakespeare on the Common attendees aren't Boston residents either. I don't think we should be thinking of the Common as a Boston-resident only place anyway - it's the center of our downtown and a huge tourist draw, and across the street from the state house. If anything, we should be looking to its origin as part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony as a reminder that it's a Common for all of Massachusetts, not just those who happen to live within walking distance.

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No, actually mostly Boston residents and
those who work downtown make up the audience for Shakespeare on the Common. The crowd is awesome, respectful, friendly and doesn't trash the Common. Check out a performance one of these summers!

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I agree Shakespeare on the Common is great - I've been every year since I've lived here. I've also never been polled for my street address and I've seen a number of people coming from outside the city for it and even invited a good number myself. But regardless, it's an event for everyone, not just those who live in Boston or work downtown, and that's the way we should view the Common in general.

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We should cancel 4th of July on Esplanade? I think First Night already bit the dust...

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Oh right... because those coming into the city to celebrate the 4th with mostly live classical music and fireworks are so rowdy and wasted. Bwaha!

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But perhaps the Freedom Rally should see if the DCR will issue a permit.

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Which will raise the question why individual consumers are still unable to purchase something well beyond the "implementation date" that was affirmatively voted for by a majority?

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Maybe if the attendees and the organizers respected the area and didn't leave garbage all over the grounds and destroy the grass, there wouldn't be such a backlash. The place was trashed the day after.
And I am a smoker myself, but who wants to have kids walking by clouds of weed smoke? Its not hard to understand why these issues are a concern.

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Every liberal movement is accused of making a mess or quality-of-life issues. It is a lot easier to clean up trash, than get your rights back. Right of assembly vs right to not be offended by certain people's litter.

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They did leave a mess. There are pictures all over 311 to prove it as well in case you didn't have the luck to view it in person on Sunday. Why is being expected to clean up after yourself and have respect for property, offensive? And before you accuse me of anything, I am a liberal too, voted to legalize, and against the "free speech" rallies. But come on, respect yourself and the places you travel. My mom taught me that by 5 years old.

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Point taken.
Seems there is a certain group of people using images out of context and deflecting the point away from the real issues. And I would not doubt that some people couldnt care less about the Commons, as much as they do their chance to point out what horrible and disgusting people those libs are.
But still, the Commons actually were a mess, and there is no excuse for that. It detracts from the message, fair or not.
And why doesnt the city plan for this to happen and go and clean it up?! Have parks and rec put some guys on OT. Charge the organizers, do whatever you have to do, but dont let it sit there. Someone mentioned the st patricks day parade and yes its true there is a crew cleaning the mess then. What is the difference?

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Cleaning up after the Freedom rally is a solvable problem. But in the current political climate around recreational marijuana, it seems that certain politicians want to ignore the voter's decision. How about use the time and effort in getting rid of this rally to implement the law safely.

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I don't think that you are understanding about the 'memes' and such.

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Liberal movement... are you joking!?? The few Trump supporters I know are almost militaristic about their support for weed.

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Because Trump's administration is restarting the war on drugs.

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May I ask why this event is so important to you Adam? It is like any other event except with drug use and dicey littlerbugs... you make of seem like this event is essential to mans existsnce

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I've never been to one, I've never been on the Common the day after, so, no, it doesn't affect my life personally one way or the other, but when two city councilors go on about it, I become interested.

If you don't care, that's fine - just skip on down the home page to the next item.

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maybe if you could buy weed locally all these dummies wouldn't have to congregate on the common for a bakefest?

my friends and i used to like to drive though after the rally ended to see all the stoned wellesley kids getting picked up by their moms.

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"safe for both Freedom Rally attendees and children, families, seniors”

Does every event everywhere have to be “family friendly”?

Are they seriously trying to make a pot rally safe for children?

Who is asking for this?

If you don’t want people smoking pot on your common, whatever that means, then just own what you don’t like. Hey we don’t think it’s acceptable for a bunch of folks to light up on the common. Fine whatever, I don’t agree with you but I understand your complaint.

This bs rhetoric about children and shit is so goddamn old, to the point of annoying, and is an argument that makes literally no sense. Just say you don’t like pot and leave it there.

To hell with the children. No one wants them at a pot rally anyway.

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The one that's right on the Common and all?

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Seems to make more sense than trying to get a bunch of people to smoke pot in a safer way around the little lads and lasses.

It is one day after all. And there are plenty of parks in the city.

I do appreciate your point.

But sometimes scheduling effects things and there might be an inconvenience. It happens all the time when there are family events going on in the city...

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Nope... people with kids can never be inconvenienced. Didn't you know that they trump everyone else?

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(It is a three day event)

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The playground was pretty busy that day! The parents didn't seem too worried about the rally-goers, who were mostly just laying around on the grass on grass. I could be wrong, but then if I was -- I don't think they would've stuck around at the playground.

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Because the event goers tend to be messy assholes and make traffic suck. Surely Josh Zakim would support that too?

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Lets see it is illegal to smoke on the MBTA and it is illegal to smoke in city parks. The question is will either the Boston Police or Transit Police enforce the no smoking laws for a mostly suburban white crowd during the event?

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How about issuing fines for littering? City gets some revenue and it discourages the littering going forward.

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of laws, then that enforcement has been corrupted. Just look at BTD and their parking zealots.

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If I'm invited somewhere and I trash the place, I wouldn't expect to be invited again... it's not rocket-science.

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Every event that happens in the city from the st. Patrick piss parade, to any of the numerous rallies or events that happen on the common or city hall or anywhere create mess. People create trash. Every time every event it all looks like shit after. The only difference here is the addition of pot.

It’s not about trash. Or cars.

Pot.

It’s fine if the city council doesn’t like pot. Save the headache and the time and the fight and just say we don’t like pot on the common we don’t want this here.

That’s it. This howling and pearl clutching about trash is absurd.

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Can't entirely say that's entirely fair. Your point about Saint Patrick's Day is well taken, as both events tend to attract young people who enjoy partaking in controlled substances, sometimes to excess, and as such, don't give much regard to respecting their surroundings.

As someone who walks between Park Street station and an office in Back Bay everyday through the Common for several years, (and who occasionally picks up stray litter Dukakis-style along the way) I can definitely say that no other large event on the Common came close to generating the amount of trash, and did as much grass damage, as Hempfest did.

Most other large events last only a day, and while most organizers try to leave out as many trash receptacles as possible, you can usually count on most people using them, even to the point where they start overflowing out. We usually see this at the Esplanade after the 4th of July - either trash gets piled up into pyramids or carried out altogether by the crowd.

But while this was also true in the case of Hempfest, it became clear to me, given how spread out the trash was over such a large area, how much of it was ground into the grass (especially plastic bottle caps and such) and judging by the considerable amount of it, that a lot of people were simply tossing the trash on the ground where they were laying or sitting on the grass, be it for few hours, or overnight for days.

That, combined with the tire gouges and damage done by improperly disposed of fryer grease, made the resulting scene by Monday morning simply disheartening for those who try to take care of our green spaces.

I have nothing against Hempfest itself as long as people act more responsibly- if they can't, it is up to the organizers to clean the mess in a timely manner by hiring the workers needed - the Parks Department budget is stretched thin enough as it is.

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nope. trash is not ageist or political. everyone creates it at every event every single time from the nazi shit to the pussy hat shit. there is no baseline.

young people!

old fuddies who don't like anyone having a good time they don't agree with. see what i did there.

trash is equal opportunity. much to your dismay.

this is about pot.

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Why was it not cleaned? This happens every year. Parks and Rec (or another agency in charge?) just let this trashed mess sit there? It doesnt make sense. Is there anyone responding to garbage complaints on the weekend? From personal experience reporting with 311 , I would not bet on it! Or, theres not enough workers to keep up.

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Is this event even relevant now that weed is legal now in Massachusetts?

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Compare it to the Pride Parade. When it started, just coming out was a big deal. Now there’s marriage equity. Is there a point? As long as there’s a community of interest, it’s relevant.

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