The four-leaf clover won’t be the only herb associated with Boston for long – the hub was ranked the second most pot-friendly city in America by The Daily Beast, according to last week’s edition of Newsweek, its sister publication.
Smoked out only by first-ranked Tallahassee, Fla., Boston gained its spot based on arrests and usage data from federal statistics as well as an analysis of the city’s “local pot culture.”
“That’s f—— ridiculous. We’re number one!” said Bill Downing, chairman of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, the state affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “Nobody smokes more pot than Massachusetts residents!”
MassCann is known for organizing the second largest annual gathering for the decriminalization of marijuana called the “Freedom Rally,” also known as “Hempfest,” which usually occurs during late September.
The Daily Beast ranked the stoner cities weighing 60 percent of the survey based on the percentage of citizens who were estimated to have smoked marijuana at least once a month, according to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. About 10 percent of the 625,000 people living in Boston puff the magic dragon on a regular basis.
Twenty percent of the survey came from Federal Bureau of Investigation arrest statistics, which calculated that there were 276 marijuana arrests per 100,000 Bostonians. While the last 20 percent analyzed the “local pot culture,” with a 10 percent bonus for states, such as Massachusetts, with local chapters of NORML.
Since 2008, marijuana has been decriminalized in Massachusetts, meaning that getting caught with less than an ounce of pot is only punishable by a civil fine of $100.
Currently, MassCann has two bills in Massachusetts legislature allowing doctors to recommend marijuana for therapeutic needs for patients and to legalize the drug, Downing said.
However, Downing found the survey to be misleading.
“Surveys are strange, why should I confess to a stranger that I break the law?” Downing said in a phone interview. “It’s unreliable. There are so many students here, the number has to be much higher.”
The survey also said that, “Many of the top 40 towns are home to large universities, where the habits of young students affect the overall atmosphere.”
There are more than 40 colleges and universities in the Boston area, with about 250,000 students coming to the city to study every fall.
Many Boston University students said that they weren’t surprised to hear the ranking.
“It’s such a big city that they can find pot easily and that’s probably why it’s ranked second,” said one student who wished to remain anonymous because of the topic. He added that the fact that Boston is a college city likely contributed to the high ranking.
Another student who wished to remain anonymous agreed, saying “since the student population is large there must be a higher population that smoke.”
“Since it’s been decriminalized they don’t really care what we do anymore. I know people smoke on my front step, I live in a brownstone. . .and no one bothers anybody. When talking to the police they love the fact that it’s decriminalized, this way they can go after criminals who’ve committed more serious crimes, like people who should be in prisons and stealing cars and stuff,” said College of Engineering junior Eric Womer.
“It’s definitely a pot friendly city. . .I think it’s better for everyone, that way people can go after the people they need to. . .I can definitely see why a city full of college students would constitute the second rated pot city.”