Marijuana Freedom Festival 2012

Freedom Festival MA

The annual marijuana freedom festival, is set for a one day event on April 28, 2012 in Amherst, Massachusetts. Organizers are hoping that this festival goes good so they can make their case for a two-day event next year.

Last year, police agreed to a two-day permit to mark the festivals 20th anniversary on a trial basis, but the event had problems.

Last year, the website for the festival sponsored by University of Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition indicated that it would be OK to openly smoke pot on the Town Common without fear of being cited through an agreement reached with police. But police never made such an agreement.

“(We will) more closely be trying to accommodate them (police concerns.) … make sure things don’t crazy,” Delegas said of organizers’ plans for this year’s festival.

“A lot of students are disappointed. Bands are disappointed,” he said of the reduction to one day.

“Some of the behavior is not what we agreed on,” Police Chief Scott Livingstone said. “There had been mutual respect (with group leaders.) We expected them to abide by the laws and the rules. That was lost somewhere.” Seventeen people were cited for violations last year.

The Cannabis Reform Coalition posted this on its Facebook page: “As a UMass RSO (registered student organization) we cannot tell you to smoke marijuana on the commons. It is unlawful to smoke marijuana in public, but it is not a crime. The penalty for marijuana possession under an ounce is a $100 fine. Distribution is a crime however, and passing a joint could technically be considered distribution so be careful.”

The coalition also posted that it will not tolerate distribution of marijuana, drinking in public, consuming other illegal drugs or violence.

“If the police see these they might shut down Extravaganja, so don’t ruin it for everyone,” the post stated.

Livingstone said organizers could consider moving the festival to a bigger venue on campus. “It might be getting to the point where it’s getting so large where maybe (they need to be) looking for a larger venue. The Town Common might not be the ideal spot,” Livingstone said.

Last year more than more 5,000 people attended the event each day. So far this year, more than 3,200 have said they will attend, according to Cannabis Reform Coalition’s Facebook page.

The free festival, scheduled from noon to 6 p.m., features bands and speakers including Jack Cole, a retired state police lieutenant and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition among others.

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