As a freshman at BU years ago, I remember my surprise as I strolled through my first Boston Freedom Rally (aka Hempfest) on Boston Common. I’d assumed Massachusetts was still the puritanical state known for burning at the stake those who enjoyed revelry. How wrong I was.
Hosted by MassCann, the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, the annual festival is a chance for Northeasterners to celebrate, motivate, and express a little outrage together. Hempfest is a great event whether you’re looking for music and entertainment, education, industry networking, or just want to browse the offerings from more than 200 onsite vendors.
Here’s the full schedule with some Leafly-curated highlights.
Know Before You Go
When: Friday, Sept. 14, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 15, 12 noon to 8 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 16, 12 noon to 6 p.m.
Where: Hempfest takes place on Boston Common. Follow signage and look for volunteers in vests. Closest MBTA stop is Park Street (Red Line), Boylston (Green Line), or Downtown Crossing (Orange Line). Ridesharing is always a decent bet, but avoid rush hour if you want to arrive at a certain time.
Age limit: None
The Elovaters take the Charles St. stage Sat, 7 p.m.
Weather forecast: Post-hurricane Boston weather, ranging between 60 and 80 degrees. Pack an umbrella or rain jacket. It’s New England.
Ticket required: None
Can I bring my own food & bev? Sure, but Massachusetts has open container laws. Don’t drink in public! Otherwise bring food, sunscreen, water, hat, comfortable shoes, all the usual. Pro tip: Bring a blanket. You’re going to want to stretch out.
What about afterparties? They do exist and are plentiful. Check on Facebook and Instagram. Follow @masscannorg on Insta, @MassCann on Twitter, and @bostonfreedomrally on Facebook.
Can I buy cannabis at Hempfest? No. And Massachusetts’ adult-use retail stores are still not open. If you’re a registered Massachusetts medical marijuana patient, there are a number of great dispensaries nearby, though, and some are running specials this week. No out-of-state cards, though, sorry.
What medical dispensaries are near the event? Patriot Care is a great downtown bet, as is Mayflower Medicinals in Allston. If you build in a little extra time to get to NETA in Brookline, you’ll find a truly great selection. Sira Naturals in Cambridge or Somerville, and Healthy Pharms Cambridge also offer excellent products in Metro Boston. Note: Event organizers do not condone on-site consumption, so take care of business before arriving at the park.
Pro tip: Go online. It’s a busy weekend, cannabis-wise. Browse the menu online, order through Leafly Pickup, and breeze through the dispensary. Pickup is now available at Patriot Care Boston, Mayflower Medicinals in Allston, and Healthy Pharms in Cambridge.
Any strain recommendations?
Of course. Last month our cannabis expert Dante Jordan suggested stocking up on Orange Cookies for Seattle’s Hempfest. “It’s going to provide a heavy-hitting high that also gives you a little boost of ‘I need to get outside’ energy,” he said. “It leaves you stoned for hours, so you can leave the house without worrying about when you’re going to smoke again. This is great for Hempfest since you have to get stoned before getting there, and you aren’t quite sure how long it’ll be until you leave.”
What if the crowd’s a little much for me? Last month our strain editor Bailey Rahn recommended something high in CBD. “Hempfest can be a very overstimulating environment, especially for people who have never been or don’t smoke tons and tons of weed,” she said. Calm your head with high-CBD classics like ACDC or Harlequin, or look into a new high-CBD strain, CBD Lilly.
Roll one up, pass it ’round: Fortunate Youth caps the party, 6pm Sunday.
Where do I park the car? If you’ve ever been in Boston, you know better than to drive downtown. DUIs and OUIs are equally discouraged and punished in Massachusetts. The method of intoxication is unimportant, and intoxicated driving is a garbage thing to do. Parking at the Boston Common will run you $28 for 3-10 hours. Street parking is short term and guaranteed to be unavailable. If you’re driving in:
- Park at Alewife or Braintree on the Red Line and take the train in.
- Bikeshare or rideshare.
- Walk on a balmy fall day with the fall foliage unfurling on the Common.
Once You’re There
Cool to light up? Technically, no. It is legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis in Massachusetts. It is not legal to consume in public, and Boston Common is as public as it gets. No legal sales are allowed at Hempfest, and the Boston PD is not as groovy and understanding as the cops who hand out Doritos at Seattle’s Hempfest.
I’m suddenly hungry. Go figure. Is there food nearby? You bet. May I humbly recommend the apple pie served in a giant baking dish at the South Street Diner? If you’re feeling more refined, the North End, just a 15-minute walk from the Common, offers some of the best Italian fare on this coast. Grab slices at Ernesto’s, or try sitting down at Antico Forno. For the most popular dim sum in Boston, head to Gourmet Dumpling House in Chinatown. You’ll have better luck at odd hours: This place has a line snaking out the door for a reason.
Chief Rocker Busy Bee gets the party started with “Smoke On,” feat. Real One, Friday at 7:10 p.m.
|3:00pm||Opening Welcome||Parkman, Charles St.|
|3:05pm||DJ D Good||Charles St.|
|4:05pm||Dr. Uma Dhanabalan||Charles St.|
|4:10pm||DJ Slim||Charles St.|
|4:45pm||Kamani Jefferson||Charles St.|
|4:50pm||Kate Phillips||Charles St.|
|4:55pm||Greg Joslin||Charles St.|
|5:25pm||Beth Waterfall||Charles St.|
|5:30pm||Hope Marian||Charles St.|
|5:35pm||Judith Foster||Charles St.|
|6:10pm||Kebra Smith-Bolden||Charles St.|
|6:15pm||Scott Churchill||Charles St.|
|6:20pm||Takiya Anthony-Price||Charles St.|
|7:00pm||Samson Racioppi||Charles St.|
|7:05pm||Mike Whiter||Charles St.|
|7:10pm||Real One / Busy Bee||Charles St.|
NJ Weedman, aka Ed Forchion, the boldest cannabis activist in the Garden State, speaks Saturday at 2 p.m.
|12:00pm||Opening (Bill Flynn)||Charles St.|
|12:05pm||Justin James Bridges||Charles St.|
|12:25pm||Small Biz Startup Discussion||Education Village|
|12:30pm||Joe Gilmore||Charles St.|
|12:35pm||TaShonda Vincent-Lee||Charles St.|
|12:40pm||Dan Pomerantz||Charles St.|
|1:00pm||Nora’s Story: Pediatric Patient Rights Discussion||Education Village|
|1:15pm||Mike Hsu||Charles St.|
|1:20pm||Andy Gaus||Charles St.|
|1:25pm||Sponsor Merch Giveaway||Charles St.|
|1:25pm||Panel: Cannabis in the Media||Education Village|
|1:30pm||Panel: Veterans and Cannabis||Parkman|
|1:30pm||Luke Bars||Charles St.|
|2:00pm||Viondy Claude Merisma||Parkman|
|2:00pm||Ed Forchion (NJ Weedman)||Charles St.|
|2:00pm||Rachel Foti: Tinctures & Herbal Medicine||Education Village|
|2:05pm||Carol-Anne Renee Sabol||Parkman|
|2:05pm||Kyle Carrao (elmo)||Charles St.|
|2:10pm||Chief S. Samura||Charles St.|
|2:15pm||Myster DL||Charles St.|
|2:25pm||Panel: Jocks & Docs||Education Village|
|2:45pm||Ebony Knight||Charles St.|
|2:50pm||Cara Crabb Burnham||Charles St.|
|3:00pm||Panel: Patients & Caregivers||Education Village|
|3:00pm||Panel: The Business of Cannabis||Parkman|
|3:00pm||The Quins||Charles St.|
|3:25pm||Panel: How to Grow Cannabis||Education Village|
|3:30pm||Sean Black||Charles St.|
|3:45pm||Van Gordon Martin||Charles St.|
|4:00pm||Mila Jansen||Education Village|
|4:15pm||Big Mike||Charles St.|
|4:25pm||Panel: On Extraction||Education Village|
|4:25pm||Mendo Dope||Charles St.|
|4:55pm||Zarailla Bacon||Charles St.|
|5:00pm||Bath & Body Essentials w/Krystal Lopez||Education Village|
|5:00pm||Danny Danko||Charles St.|
|5:05pm||Diane Fornbacher (Lady Bud)||Charles St.|
|5:10pm||Steve Bloom||Charles St.|
|5:15pm||The Rupert Selection||Charles St.|
|5:25pm||Panel: Families & Cannabis||Education Village|
|5:45pm||Theresa Nightingale||Charles St.|
|5:50pm||Nichole West||Charles St.|
|5:55pm||Sponsor Merch Giveaway||Charles St.|
|6:00pm||Kate Phillips: Consumer to Connoisseur||Education Village|
|6:00pm||Crooked Coast||Charles St.|
|6:25pm||Panel: All About Edibles||Education Village|
|6:45pm||Michael Latulippe||Charles St.|
|6:50pm||Laura Boehner||Charles St.|
|6:55pm||Ellen Brown||Charles St.|
|6:55pm||Kyle “Tuna” Gairhan||Parkman|
|7:00pm||The Elovators||Charles St.|
|7:00pm||Panel: Cannabis Science||Education Village|
Sunday’s going to be a positive day with Christina Holmes performing at 1:30 p.m.
|12:05pm||DJ D Good||Charles St.|
|12:40pm||Sonia Erika||Charles St.|
|12:45pm||Panel: Master Growers||Parkman|
|1:00pm||Panel: Veterans & Cannabis||Education Village|
|1:15pm||Melissa Bouchard||Charles St.|
|1:30pm||Space Cade7s||Charles St.|
|1:30pm||Demo: Reiki Healing||Education Village|
|2:00pm||Eric Schwartz||Charles St.|
|2:00pm||Chris “Dubba” Cote||Parkman|
|2:00pm||Panel: Mental Health for Beginners||Education Village|
|2:05pm||Michael Maloney||Charles St.|
|2:10pm||Jordan Carlson||Charles St.|
|2:15pm||Panel: All About Extraction||Parkman|
|2:30pm||How to Set up a Co-Op||Education Village|
|2:45pm||John (JD) Dvorak||Charles St.|
|2:50pm||Shaleen Title||Charles St.|
|2:55pm||Stanley Atkins II||Charles St.|
|3:00pm||Panel: Social Media for the Cannabis Community||Education Village|
|3:30pm||Panel: Cancer Patients & Caregivers||Education Village|
|3:30pm||Uncle Stoner (Squash Results)||Charles St.|
|3:35pm||Mila Jansen||Charles St.|
|3:45pm||Higher Education||Charles St.|
|4:00pm||Panel: How to Grow Cannabis||Education Village|
|4:20pm||Mike Clinton||Charles St.|
|4:25pm||Addison Demoura||Charles St.|
|4:30pm||Danny Danko||Education Village|
|4:30pm||Over the Bridge||Charles St.|
|5:00pm||Panel: Social Justice & Activism||Education Village|
|5:00pm||Yong Soo Kim||Parkman|
|5:00pm||Brett Cogill||Charles St.|
|5:05pm||Wendy Love Edge||Charles St.|
|5:15pm||Joe Sambo||Charles St.|
|5:30pm||Demo: Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine||Education Village|
|5:45pm||Bobby Nuggz||Charles St.|
|5:50pm||MassCann Thank You / Closing Ceremony||Charles St.|
|6:00pm||Fortunate Youth||Charles St.|
|6:00pm||Panel: Cannabis Is Medicine||Education Village|
|6:30pm||John Dvorak on Cannabis Curriculum||Education Village|
|7:00pm||Panel: Opiates||Education Village|
|7:30pm||Samson Racioppi on Prohibition Then & Now||Education Village|