Chanting, “Yes on 4, end the Drug War” approximately 30 people rallied in the center of the University of Massachusetts Boston’s campus Friday afternoon, asking registered voters to vote yes on ballot Question 4, which would recreationally legalize marijuana.
Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Cannabis Cultural Association hosted the rally to support the legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts, according to a flyer passed out at the rally. Moderators Joe Gilmore, the president of SSDP at UMass Boston, and Kamani Jefferson, who’s apart of CCA, invited speakers with a variety of backgrounds to share their personal experiences with marijuana.
Standing on stone steps beside UMass Boston’s campus center statue, the rally moderators and speakers held signs that read “End the Drug War” and “Yes on 4.”
UMass Boston student Ann Holmqvist, a medical marijuana patient, told attendees that marijuana helped her with many medical complications throughout her life when prescription drugs fell short.
“I’m a brain tumor survivor. I’m missing one quarter of my brain,” Holmqvist said during the rally. “But I’m in college. Trust me, I can attest: marijuana helps epilepsy, it helps cancer, it helps depression and anxiety. Why is it not legal?”
Throughout the rally, organizers handed out flyers with the “Yes on 4” logo and a list of each of the speakers’ names and titles. In addition to the Yes on 4 Campaign to Tax and Regulate Marijuana, representatives from the New England Veterans Alliance and the Black Lives Matter movement were also present at the rally.
Another speaker, Joe Centrofanti, a student at UMass Boston who was charged with a drug conviction, said he would have to suffer the repercussions of nonviolent decisions he made as a 20-year-old for the next 15 years.
“The legalization of pot needs to occur to stop punishing people for a harmless crime and preventing them from getting jobs. It needs to happen to stop the incarceration of people,” he said. “We can make money collectively as a nation and state off this business if people remove the false negative stigma around it.”
Raz Kamal, 18, of Revere, said the stigma Centrofanti referred to prevents voters from being open to the idea of voting yes to marijuana legalization.
“People don’t bother hearing anyone out because they think weed is a drug that people use just to get high,” Kamal said after the rally. “It’s helped a lot of people and its been proven medicine, so I think it can help the ones who actually need it.”
Nicholas Davis, 19, of Dorchester, said marijuana legalization would benefit the reputation of minorities throughout Boston.
“Coming from a low-income area, I believe it would be great for our community and it would definitely take away a lot of stigma from the black community as well and people of color in general,” Davis said.
RachelRamone Donlan, 44, of South Boston, and a member of The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition who attended the rally, said voters should be informed on every ballot question.
“This needs to be done for all of the questions,” Donlan said. “It’s important for both sides to be educated, and read the law, and for people to actually take a look at what [Question 4] is and what it says because its really a good law.”
Longtime marijuana activist and breast cancer survivor KP Owens, 70, told listeners at the rally that organizers were there to speak for their cause because they knew the benefits of marijuana firsthand.
“[Question] 4 is the only way we’re going to open that door. Now we’re here to empower you, embrace you and educate you,” Owens said during the rally. “We don’t want you to walk away saying, ‘Those people don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.’ We do know what we’re talking about. That’s why we’re here.”