Welcome to Leafly’s live 4/20 coverage of the 2018 Boston Freedom Rally. News Editor Ben Adlin is roaming Boston Common all weekend, and he’ll be updating our coverage of news, events, performances, and random weird stuff he sees. Check back often, it’s gonna be wicked fun.

BOSTON — The East Coast’s largest cannabis festival kicked off Friday afternoon on Boston Common, with thousands descending on the grassy park to celebrate new freedoms and push for continued progress.

The Boston Freedom Rally, first held in 1989, is the country’s second-largest annual gathering dedicated to cannabis reform after Seattle’s HempFest, and this year’s event comes at an unusual time in Massachusetts history. Voters here legalized cannabis nearly two years ago, but so far not a single retail shop has opened, and festivalgoers are warned of steep fines for lighting up in public.

Find Dispensaries Near Boston Common (or Near You) 

Offering or Seeking?

Part of the action on Friday afternoon. (Ben Adlin/Leafly)

“Remember, you’re not supposed to smoke pot on the Common,” Bill Flynn, president of event organizer MassCann, said onstage as he kicked off the festivities on Friday.

But few here seem to care. After all, Flynn said with a grin, this is an event that’s all about civil disobedience. And it’s widely understood that while Boston police haven’t quite reached the level of Seattle’s—who are known to hand out munchies to elevated Hempfest revelers—it’s still pretty safe to light up. Just be smart about it, one regular tells me as he pops open a container for me to smell.

Corn Dogs & Fried Dough = Late Lunch

Folks were already showing up on Friday afternoon to hit the vendor booths and culinary treats. (Ben Adlin/Leafly)

Getting high, though, is just one reason people are here. The Freedom Rally is also one of the East Coast’s largest free music festivals, with nearly three full days of live performances (you can see the full lineup here). On top of that, there are great deals on glass and other accessories, a bounty of fair food, and an assortment of other vendors, information booths, and activist organizations.

Never been? Check out our event guide for tips on how to do the Boston Freedom Rally right. As for me, I’m off to find some food and wander up to the top of the hill, which is a perfect place to spread out a blanket and enjoy the sights.

We’re Underway. Douse That Joint!

Where is everybody? At the food trucks. (Ben Adlin/Leafly)

Are you in the area? Drop by! I’ll be wandering the Common all weekend, and the rest of the Leafly team will be manning a booth in the event’s “Education Village,” teaching people about terpenes and getting ready for the launch of the East Coast’s first regulated retail cannabis market.

Legalization isn’t here in its entirety, but you sure can smell it coming.


Boston Freedom Rally: 2018 Schedule & Insider’s Guide