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Estrogen influx for pot protesters

Tokin' females
By ARIEL SHEARER  |  April 13, 2011

MASSCANN's recent board elections injected the organization's leadership with some youth — and six women, the most ever. 

For years, MassCann has been something of a gentleman's club, trying to legalize pot in Massachusetts with limited success. But the March 19 board election brought a dramatic change. Six of the 12-person board's new members are women — most of them under age 30, and all of them on Facebook. Their energy and ideas differ completely from the old guard.

Even their first board meeting (March 30) in the back room of Uno Chicago Grill in Newton was standing room only: plenty of young blood, and now, more estrogen.

New secretary Niki Snow says this board meeting looked nothing like the first MassCann meeting she attended just last summer. "There were five or 10 people at a time in meetings, it was just the board." The men in charge spent their time in heated legal debates, Snow says. "I wasn't learning or understanding."

Snow describes the contrast between the old and new MassCann in terms of two main ideas: new members stress a commitment to community while the old school focuses on challenging the law.

Take Steve Epstein, for example: he's treasurer of MassCann and has been on the board for 20 years. He's a lawyer by day, smokes a lot of cigarettes, and often stresses how difficult it is to pass new legislation. "The only way for the federal government to change the law is to pass the 21st Amendment for marijuana," barks Epstein during the board meeting at Uno, explaining to the crowd why he thinks MassCann can't campaign for legalization in 2011-2012.

Epstein's lawyerly approach is typical of MassCann's past strategies. The organization pushed nonbinding ballot questions in Massachusetts districts throughout the 2000s. Yet the 2008 decriminalization of marijuana came from an initiative by the rival ad-hoc group Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy, not MassCann.

When elected board president last year, Mike Crawford (a/k/a MikeCann) decided the group needed serious revamping. "Bringing in women was a goal of mine," says Crawford, recently re-elected for a second term. "Time for them to step up . . . and younger people, too." There had been women on the board before, Crawford says, but never more than one at a time. He says he also wants to reach young professionals willing to moonlight as activists.

Snow credits Crawford with bringing her back into the group last summer, along with new members, by hosting the "Battle for the Rally," a battle of the bands to elect acts for the annual Freedom Rally on Boston Common. The Freedom Rally pot festival is organized by MassCann each September, and Crawford says another "Battle for the Rally" is being planned this summer.

At the recent meeting, the new members focused on community-oriented event planning. Even after two hours, when the elders were ready to pack it in, the young turks weren't ready to stop talking pot — even if it meant waiting a little longer to smoke it.

The OGs of MassCann even tried wrapping things up by telling everyone in attendance to call their local representatives (and, you know, lecture them on the glory of ganja). New board member Cara Crabb-Burnham had other ideas.

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Related: Photos: MassCann's 2010 Freedom Rally, MassCan's 20th Freedom Rally relatively free from arrests, This is your summer . . . on drugs, More more >
  Topics: This Just In , Massachusetts, Marijuana, MassCann,  More more >
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6 Comments / Add Comment

Richard Meehan

To my younger brothers and sisters "thank you for heating up the cause here in MA.! I am an old dude at 63 years of age, former Marine, left leaning artist by trade and proud old hippie by choice. I am personally sickened by the way my generation (Those of us that 'lived' the sixties) has left you beautiful folks to kick the ball down the road (For ALL of us) on this (Marijuana) issue and frankly so very much more. My "peers", your parents and even grandparents have let you down basicly out of fear of losing what little foothold they have in the material world should they get busted/caught/ or "found out". We have elected or first official inhaling president into office believing that he would fight (At the very least) for the Civil Right to use medical marijuana. He is a coward to date on the issue and needs to have his feet held to the fire if he intends to have any of our support come his second time around! The Feds must surrender to states rights and those that follow the voters wishes (Here in MA. 80%+ favor medical use) should not be subject to the Feds screwing around with the states business. I am willing to work with any of you in helping to push the new MA. Med. Bill to the House floor. There is not enough public attention to the Med issue in the local newspapers and where I live (Cape Cod) there is low to no grassroots movement to speak of (But we can change that right). This is one "old guy" that's mighty proud of all the young blood stepping up to join this fight! After all it is our state/country and WE WANT OUR VOICES HEARD!!!!!!!
Peace & Blessings,
No Shoes
Posted: April 13 2011 at 6:13 PM

Christie Morgan

Richard, excellently put and you rally my *two thumbs up*. Couldn't have said it better. Peace, Light and & Love, my brother... it is not Hippie... it is Human. :D <3
Posted: April 14 2011 at 12:37 PM


i wonder why this lawyer, Epstein, says that the only way for the federal government to change the law is to "pass the 21st Amendment for marijuana" when there was no 18th Amendment making marijuana illegal like their was for alcohol. The 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment which forbade the production and sales of alcoholic beverages. The Constitution does not prohibit marijuana. State and federal laws do that. States can legalize marijuana, but it will still be illegal under federal law until the feds legalize it. Of course the feds don't have the resources to enforce their ban on marijuana, so if enough states legalize they'll capitulate and remove the federal ban on marijuana.

Constitutional amendments require a vote from two thirds of both houses of Congress and then have to be ratified by three quarters of the states to become law. A simple majority vote from our federal law makers could end the federal prohibition on marijuana, and while only a tiny few of our federal law makers publicly support legalization, you can bet that privately far more of them do, maybe even a higher percentage than the 40 some odd percent of the voting public that do. Most have probably smoked pot because most are males who went to college and at least for those who are baby boomers or younger there is a very high statistical likelihood that they've smoked it before as a good bit over half all adult males under 65 with at least some college have smoked it, according to government statistics. When states start legalizing it, that will open the debate and it won't be long before the feds remove their ban, without a constitutional amendment.

I'm a lawyer too, by the way. Epstein is just wrong.
Posted: April 14 2011 at 3:00 PM

Glenn Prescott

hay billg4 y dont u join massann/mormal and help us out
Posted: April 14 2011 at 6:12 PM

Mike Cann

// !!
Posted: April 14 2011 at 6:55 PM

Ariel Shearer

Richard, I am from Cape Cod myself. Sean Gonsalves at the Cape Cod Times writes an outside-of-the-box opinion column and I should hope he'd be open to starting such a discussion (perhaps via email?) -- he's great at getting the local scoop. During my time at Barnstable High School, kids were sniffed out by drug dogs and arrested on the weekly for pot possession. A lot of them dropped out when the resulting suspension messed up their attendance and threatened their ability to graduate on time. Not to mention the amount of marijuana possession arrests in the court report... I wonder how this has changed since the 2008 decrim? Need to keep tabs on the home town.

As for changing the law -- in our country, this takes a very long time and comes from a shift in public opinion from the bottom up. People gotta' want it REAL bad.
Posted: April 15 2011 at 1:52 AM
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