4/20: State Representatives Smoke Cannabis at NH State House with Crowd of 100+

Several longtime cannabis freedom activists at the 2017 Concord smoke-out.

Several longtime cannabis freedom activists at the 2017 Concord smoke-out.

Since 2009, on April 20th at 4:20pm people from across New Hampshire gather in front of the State House in Concord to commit mass civil disobedience by smoking, vaporizing, or otherwise consuming cannabis in public. As has happened in previous years, we were again joined by multiple state representatives including Libertarian Caleb Dyer of Pelham, NH as well as Keene’s Ward One Democrat, Joseph Stallcop, and Republican Glen Aldrich of Gilford.

Representatives Dyer and Stallcop were both featured speakers and also toked up with a crowd of over 100 people while representative Aldrich took photos, as he has done for years at the rally. Also photographing the event was Granite Haze of Mind blogger Justin Campagnone – you can check out his albums here. I had the honor of video recording the event, including all the speakers. I’ll be posting each speech to the Free Keene YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe and click the notification bell on the YouTube channel to see the videos as they are released! Meanwhile, here’s a video with some highlights of the event to tide you over:

This year’s event began with speakers at 3pm including representatives Dyer & Stallcop, me explaining the right of Jury Nullification, and Libertarian Party of NH chairman Darryl W Perry. The overcast weather threatened rain which thankfully never materialized and the temperature was cool and pleasant with a couple dozen already in attendance at 3pm by the street, smoking cannabis and chalking messages on the pavement. As we closed in on 4:20pm (the time that cannabis is used in celebration globally) the numbers of attendees swelled to easily over 100 people.

Just a portion of the excellent crowd, photos courtesy Justin Campagnone

Just a portion of the excellent crowd, photos courtesy Justin Campagnone

Event organizer and executive director of the 420 Foundation, Shire Dude emceed (and live streamed) the event. As the crowd gathered directly in front of the state house close to 4:20, we heard from speakers including Carla Gericke of the Foundation for New Hampshire Independence, the executive director of the NH Cannabis Freedom Festival, Rick Naya, and medical cannabis consultant John Padellaro who told us how cannabis helped him with his inoperable brain growth. Padellaro also said, “I don’t support legalization. I support ending prohibition.” This sentiment was echoed by speakers Perry and Gericke, with Gericke also calling on New Hampshire’s new governor, Chris Sununu, to pardon all peaceful drug offenders and end funding for “Granite Hammer”. Perry and representative Dyer’s speeches focused on the current legal status and future of cannabis reform in New Hampshire while Naya reflected on the previous 420 rallies and people we’ve lost to prohibition. In his off-the-cuff speech, representative Stallcop of Keene told the attendees, “we need to stop looking at each other in terms of left or right. I see, in all honesty, there is right and there is wrong…We will stand together as one people and say that this is our decision, this is our choice.”

New Hampshire bitcoiners were also scattered throughout the 420 rally, celebrating the same-day NH senate vote of 13-10 to pass the Bitcoin protection bill on to governor Sununu. With cannabis decriminalization passed by a record 89.8% of the NH house, it is widely expected to finally make it through the senate and new governor this year. In other cannabis-related political news, major expansion of the medical cannabis qualifying conditions also seems to be making good headway as well, with conditions like chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder possibly being added to the list. Will republican governor Sununu prove to be more compassionate on this issue than his democrat predecessor? Remember, this is New Hampshire, where political labels don’t always mean what you think they mean.

Can anyone identify this cop watching the event?

Can anyone identify this cop watching the event?

While mainstream media news reporters present seemed to be limited to the Concord Monitor’s Allie Morris, the police were definitely watching, with what many suspected to be a police drone surveilling from above during the main event at 4:20. While one could say the drone being police-operated is speculation, there was definitely an unmarked police SUV parked and observing the crowd early on in the event. After I noticed him sitting there, I walked over to the grass near where he was sitting and pointed my camera at him. Within a minute, he said something into a microphone, rolled up his window and left, not to return. Besides a few state police cruisers driving by (not unusual for downtown Concord), that was the extent of any obvious police presence. As has been the case over the eight years of this epic civil disobedience event, no one was arrested.

Overall, the event was fantastic with plenty of people, great speakers, good weed, conversation, and camaraderie. The future looks bright for cannabis in New Hampshire, especially as more liberty-oriented activists migrate here as part of the Shire Society and Free State Project. If you care about freedom and want help make it happen, you should really consider moving here ASAP. Here are over 101 Reasons Why Liberty Lives in New Hampshire. Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest on ending prohibition in New Hampshire.

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