Freedom Rally to feature Frank talk

Steve Bloom of shows his support for the legalization of marijuana at last year’s Freedom Rally.

Amid the likely clouds of smoke on the Boston Common Saturday afternoon there’s going to be some frank talk about marijuana.

Retiring U.S. Rep. Barney Frank is among those scheduled to speak at the annual Freedom Rally, which has been held for more than 20 years.

The Newton Democrat said that while he doesn’t smoke weed he supports the rights of other people to do so and will speak about why legislators are making a mistake by not allowing it.

“Freedom is the issue. It is a great mistake for our society that wants to be a free society to prevent people from making their own choices when they don’t hurt other people,” Frank told Metro Thursday from Washington, D.C.

Frank’s appearance is causing surprise and excitement among organizers who said they requested the popular Newton Democrat to speak at the event for years and finally received an OK this year.

Frank said he was able to this year because he is retiring and not keeping a busy campaign schedule during this time of year like in years past.

“Barney Frank, he is going to be the attention grabber indeed,” said Bill Downing, treasurer of Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, which puts on the rally. “A lot of people will come out to hear what he has to say.”

Frank has been a longtime supporter of marijuana rights and last year submitted legislation to limit federal laws regarding the drug.

Downing said he expects many of the speeches Saturday to be pep talks, especially ahead of a crucial vote this fall.

A hot topic at the rally is November’s ballot question that asks voters whether to legalize medical marijuana.

“That’s going to make huge changes here in Mass.,” Downing said. “One of the big changes is people read about marijuana here in Massachusetts and almost all of it is terrible — a teen smoking or people shooting each other because of a bust gone bad or whatever.

“Once medical marijuana is here, tens of thousands of people dying across the state can get relief … and positive stories about marijuana can help the sea change,” he said.

Frank said he supports the ballot question, which recent polls show has strong support.

“I think this is one where the public is ahead of the politicians,” said Frank. “The politicians are afraid to do it. I think they are mistaken to be afraid … that they’ll be soft on drugs.”

The lineup

Some of the dozens of speakers and bands at Saturday’s rally include:
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, retiring congressman from Newton
Lester Grinspoon, author of “Marihuana Reconsidered” and associate professor emeritus at Harvard Medical School
Keith Stroup, founder of National Organization of the Reform for Marijuana Laws
Spiritual Rez, Boston Music Award winners and Berklee College of Music alums

Pot poll

As part of the November ballot, Massachusetts voters will be asked to vote for or against legalizing medical marijuana.

Polls conducted by Public Policy Polling in August showed 58 percent of respondents are in favor of allowing medical marijuana use, with 27 percent against, according to the State House News Service.   


Hillary Clinton headed to Boston for women's leadership…

Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to visit Massachusetts Wednesday amid continuing speculation about making another bid for the presidency in 2016.


The Boston Marathon: Step by step, the race…

For over a century, the Boston Marathon has been an event centered around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there’s no denying the face of the renowned race has been changed…


Boston Marathon: Marathoners ready to run, honor victims

Scores of runners will cross the Boston Marathon starting line in Hopkinton Monday and embark on a 26.2-mile journey to Boston in honor of the victims.


MIT student, Rhodes scholar, dies

Eliana Hechter, a student at MIT and Harvard, died, her family said. The announcement was posted on MIT's website.


Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…


Loop are, er, um, back in the loop

Experimental noise rock band Loop's three mid-1980s to early-1990s albums, “Heavens End,” “Fade Out” and “A Gilded Eternity,” were mercifully reissued.


MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win


NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1


MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing


MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox


Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…


Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…


Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…


4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.