In the United States, there are now states where recreational marijuana is already legal and it is now commonplace to find a festival held in a public park where cannabis is openly consumed.
Times have changed. Just a few years ago, toking in public without the fear of arrest would have been unheard of. Then there were events that became temporary safe zones for cannabis users, with organizers applying for a license that would allow festivalgoers to consume marijuana on premises.
There are several music festivals that not only lit up on weed but also blazed trails when it comes to using music to protest cannabis prohibition in their areas.
1. Seattle Hempfest
Seattle Hempfest currently brings together hundreds of thousands of cannabis enthusiasts over three days. The event started off way back in 1991 with around 500 people enjoying good music along with great weed. The event has been credited in helping change the way people think about cannabis in Washington State that started off as a prohibition state, eventually allowing medical pot and then recreational use.
2. Hash Bash
Hash Bash is now close to five decades old and has a very colorful origin story. John Sinclair, a poet, campus radical and agitator was arrested by police in 1969. The official reason was that he gave undercover cops two joints after two months of spending time with them. John Lennon took notice of the case and wrote a wrong about it, and the in 1971, organized a concert to free Sinclair. He was released from prison three days later.
The state’s Supreme Court heard Sinclair’s case and said that what happened to him involved cruel and unusual punishment. The court also ruled that the state’s anti-cannabis laws were unconstitutional.
The first Hash Bash was held a few months later to celebrate Sinclair’s release as well as calling on people to push back against the anti-marijuana laws. The event is held yearly on the diag of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
3. Emerald Cup
The Emerald Cup is a three-day event that is held yearly at the Sonoma County. The event features a cultivation competition, talks, panel discussions and musical entertainment. It started out in 2003 as a competition among the top cannabis growers in the Emerald Triangle.
The Emerald Cup is seen as the Academy Awards for the marijuana industry and it has consistently gave recognition to the best cannabis plants, flowers, topicals, edibles, and concentrates.
4. Boston Freedom Rally
The first event of the Boston Freedom Rally happened in 1989 and it has consistently scaled up until it became a yearly event at the Boston Commons. Today, the event draws tens of thousands of people who come for the music, the talks, vendors and yes, to toke.
But in the early years, the Boston Freedom Rally has always been a venue for helping people change their minds about cannabis and calling for legalization. In its long history, the organizers have repeatedly sued the city of Boston for moving to stop them from holding what they described as an education and political rally.
While all of these events happen in the United States, there are other events and festivals that happen all over the world that seeks for the legalization and acceptance of cannabis.
Cannafest in Prague, Czech Republic. This event is marketed as a global trade show of medical herbs and cannabis. It is the best attended cannabis expo in the world with 25,000 participants and more than 250 vendors.
Cultivate Your Rights in Santiago, Chile. Chileans use more cannabis per capita than any other country in the Latin American region. Cultivate Your Rights happen every April and is both a freedom festival and protest march rolled into one.
Amsterdam Cannabis Cup in the Netherlands. This event is the brainchild of High Times Editor Steven Hager in the late 1980s. Today, it lasts for a week and features contests and competitions that brings in thousands of cannabis lovers from all over the world.