Mayoral Candidate Nobody and City Council Candidates Ian Freeman and Robert Call toke up at the 420.
In September of 2009, liberty migrants and New Hampshire natives gathered in Keene’s Central Square to commit mass civil disobedience in violation of the state’s prohibition against cannabis. They did this heroic act despite the risk of misdemeanor charges that could have resulted at the time from the simple possession of cannabis.
The 420 rallies were historic and made local, state, national, and international headlines. They started small, with just a handful smoking cannabis in the iconic New Hampshire town common and quickly grew to upwards of 150 participants at their peak. The celebrations of cannabis freedom went on daily and lasted for weeks, despite desperate attempts by Keene police to crack down.
Once the events grew to a crowd, Keene police arrested a couple of the perceived leaders of the event in hopes of intimidating the peaceful tokers into calling it quits and going home, but the police aggression had the opposite effect. Instead of scaring away the protestors, dozens marched down to the Keene police headquarters and smoked cannabis behind the police station and later smoked up inside the lobby!
After that, the police never returned to the daily 420s and they eventually died off due to winter weather setting in. Though the rallies were revived the following Spring, we had clearly won the ground as a demilitarized zone for open cannabis use. It was a beautiful thing. Beginning in 2010, on April 20th the 420 rallies continued as a yearly event at the Concord state house steps and participants even came to include multiple state representatives.
Last weekend, the 420 rally returned to the place where it began – Keene’s Central Square. The founder of the rallies, then known as Rich Paul, now known as Nobody and running a campaign for mayor of Keene had the prior week announced a special rally to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the historic events. Held on Saturday September 28th at 4:20pm, the 10th anniversary rally was attended by locals, liberty migrants, and even included Robert Call and me, who are both candidates for city council in this year’s Keene municipal election.
Here’s a music video I made from footage of the original rallies in 2009, footage from the Concord rallies, and fresh footage and photos from last weekend’s 10th anniversary 420 rally:
In the past decade, we’ve seen some political progress in New Hampshire, including medical cannabis passing in 2012 and decriminalization of less than 3/4ths of an ounce of cannabis and 5 grams of concentrate passed in 2017. However, prohibition is not over and it continues to be a felony to grow or sell cannabis – an amazing plant that has helped countless people.
As long as prohibition exists, expect the 420 rallies and the civil disobedience to continue.
It’s 420 at 4:20pm Saturday 9/28 at Keene’s Central Square!
Ten years ago, in September of 2009, a group of liberty activists and NH natives made history by gathering every day in Keene’s Central Square at 4:20pm to smoke cannabis in an act of mass civil disobedience protesting New Hampshire’s insane drug prohibition. You can watch a bunch of videos of it here. The group grew larger as the days went by to where, at its peak, there were at least 130 people in the tiny little common in the heart of Downtown Keene. The Keene police were unsure of how to handle the situation after a couple of arrests they made at the rallies resulted in a bunch of protestors smoking cannabis inside the police station lobby!
After that, the police simply ignored the ongoing civil disobedience, publicly stating that they investigated and had found no one was smoking – which was a lie. The historic events garnered local and even international headlines and most importantly got a conversation started among the community about ending cannabis prohibition.
Eventually, the weather got too cold for most to bear, but the following spring, the daily rallies returned! Over time, people went back to their regular lives and the rallies continued yearly at the Concord, NH state house steps. We’d won the territory of Central Square and had essentially turned Keene’s little town common into a demilitarized zone where cannabis prohibition was not enforced!
We have made a lot of progress in 10 years, but we have a long way left to go. We have gained medical, we have gained decriminalization, we have, most recently, loosened the cruel and pointless constraints on medical marijuana. Most importantly, we have won the hearts and minds of the people but we are not done. We must serve notice that the people will not be satisfied until the crime against humanity that is the “war on drugs” is over and those responsible brought to justice, or at least to peace.
Cannabis users are not disposable people. Whether we use it for medical, spiritual, or recreational purposes, we retain our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, even if we seek that happiness through unapproved chemical means.
Nobody has invited people to bring cannabis to smoke and share, though in case of a police crackdown, avoid having over three quarters of an ounce, since that is the decrim limit in New Hampshire. As of 2017’s overwhelmingly passed slight decriminalization, possession of under 21 grams of cannabis or five grams of concentrate will only net the first time offender a $100 ticket. Whereas previously it would have been a misdemeanor arrest. So, now the risk to participants at 420 rallies is lower than ever.
However, if the police do show up to attempt to confiscate your cannabis and you end up with a ticket, I highly suggest you don’t take the plea deal! Take the ticket to trial and make them work to get their conviction, and even when you’re found guilty, refuse to pay the fine and instead do community service. Or just sit in jail for a day, since NH allows you to sit off fines at $150 a day. Whatever you do, don’t pay the fine, as that only encourages them to target peaceful cannabis users for fundraising purposes. If the police know they can’t get money out of people for cannabis “violations” and the police’s victims will instead clog up the courts via their right to trial, the cops may just stop ticketing people for cannabis entirely.
I look forward to seeing you out this Saturday, 9/28 at 4:20pm on Keene’s Central Square for the return of the 420 celebration rallies! If it goes well, we might even come back the next day…
It has been 7 years. No arrests, no nonsense. Just normal everyday living. I reached out to a consulting firm to help me with some business I am conducting, and part of their introduction letter informed me that they can’t do business with anyone who has a criminal record that hasn’t been annulled. So I looked into what it takes to do that. It took me about a week to figure it all out from reading the law and the paperwork, filling it out, calling the court clerks, and making sure everything is in order. It boils down to this:
You have to wait a certain amount of time after your final sentence, depending on the severity of the crimes. Then you can file for annulment, meaning they get “erased” from your record. (They still appear when searched, but a note is made that these have effectively been nullified since I have been rehabilitated for several years.)
I can file to annul multiple charges at once, so I filed to wipe out 14 of the charges that I had in District Court, and 2 that I had in Superior Court. It costs $125 per court, so $250 total. Later, there may be a separate fee from the Department of Corrections or other agency if they need to do some work to help get this settled. They tell me the whole process takes about 3-4 months.
At the end of it, though, I should have some kind of certification that I am no longer considered a criminal in the eyes of the State. That is good because it will allow me to do business with more people and afford me more freedom generally. If all it takes is filing some paperwork, paying a fee, and waiting, I say it is worth it. I will keep you updated on how it goes!
Julia and her brother, Luthor Miranda, at the only rave held in the last 15 years in New Hampshire – at the Laser Center in Hooksett
Julia Miranda, the first true love of my life, passed away last weekend at age 34. Julia moved to New Hampshire with me in 2006 as part of the Free State Project. She was a longtime co-host of Free Talk Live, originating here in Keene, where she lived and once even ran for office. Her boyfriend and former FTL co-host and comic artist Marcus Connor spoke at her memorial service in Peterborough yesterday and shared some kind words from one of the many listeners of Free Talk Live who she touched with her witty, compassionate, and intelligent comments on-the-air. Julia loved electronic music, especially the Happy Hardcore subgenre. Since she discovered them as a young teen, Julia also loved attending raves and it was her passion for the electronic music scene that led her to my radio show, Free Talk Live.
In October of 2005, there was a ridiculous and shocking police raid against a peaceful rave in Utah. The raid included a helicopter hovering with spotlights and armed men rappelling down to violently kidnap approximately sixty people whose only crime was dancing without government permission. It was an outrage, but for the rave community, it was nothing new. Police had been harassing and arresting ravers for more than a decade prior to the Utah rave raid in 2005.
Because of her rave community connections, Julia heard our broadcast on Free Talk Live where we discussed the Utah rave and she was amazed that anyone in the media would actually empathize with the situation and further, support her right to live life how she wanted. After listening to Free Talk Live and later calling in to tell her own personal story of police harassment and arrest over cannabis possession, Julia sent me a very nice email. From that moment, our lives were never the same, and we would be forever intertwined, for the better.
It wasn’t long before Julia had signed the Free State Project‘s pledge to migrate to New Hampshire and moved in with me in my house in Florida. She’d lived on the East coast of Florida for years, while I’d lived on the West coast for my whole life to that point. Within months, we’d made the move to New Hampshire on Labor Day of 2006 as partners.
Beyond being threatened by the Attorney Genital over her campaign promise to return her paycheck to the people, a local politico had come into Panera, where she worked as a manager at the time, and bugged her about her campaign. For her, this was an unacceptable result of political action and she decided she wanted nothing to do with the process from then on. Politics is a nasty business and it wasn’t right for Julia, understandably. She decided to focus more on her career, our relationship sadly ended, and after working for years in the corporate world, she became a self-taught graphic designer.
Without ever having spent a single day inside a college classroom, Julia became a capable and competent graphic artist while working in the charitable giving department of C&S Grocers, one of Keene’s major employers. That was what Julia did – she mastered anything she set her mind to.
Julia in Toronto, feeling great before the last Hullabaloo
She was super-smart and also very beautiful. It was a pleasure to be her partner for as long as I was. I’m definitely a better person today because I knew her.
While there was a time when Julia and my eventual teenage love, Renee were not close, thankfully they ended up becoming great friends, as I hoped they would. Renee loved raves as much as Julia, and Julia ultimately became her “rave mom”.
After leaving the corporate world, Julia set out as a freelance graphic designer and took a Christmas season job at Target in Keene to help pay the bills. Since she excelled at everything, they of course asked her to stay on after the holiday season. Julia always had an inspirational work ethic, and loved her new job in the electronics department. With her lifelong love for robots and computers, it was an easy fit for a her.
While the autopsy has not yet come in, I suspect her early demise at only age 34 had to do with an injury she recently suffered in her workplace, where two weeks before her death, she accidentally turned around and ran into a metal column, and as she described it to me, “almost got knocked the fuck out”. Apparently she did not go to the hospital, despite being laid out on the floor by the impact. Like Julia, I dislike hospitals and would probably have done what she likely did, brushed herself off and went back to work, as best as she could.
Julia passed away last week at an electronic music festival in New York. Renee and others were with her at the time, so she was with those who loved her, at a place where she felt at home. Some will take the easy road and blame drugs for her early death. Those people didn’t know Julia. No one I’ve ever known in my life was more careful about recreational drug use than Julia. She always tested what she’d acquired and spent time researching what she chose to put in her body. She also made it her mission to educate other ravers and anyone who was willing to listen, about responsible recreational drug use. (more…)
This year, after a four-year absence, I returned as an attendee to the Porcupine Freedom Festival, aka Porcfest. I’m happy to say that Porcfest 2019 was a success and even featured some history-making civil disobedience. More on that in a moment. First, kudos to Rodger and Jessica Paxton and their crew for throwing an excellent festival – in spite of the now-expected political bungling by the Free State Project‘s board of directors. Longtime Porcfest attendee, and Free Keene blogger Rich Paul had this to say:
The tension that has subdued Porcfest for the last few years is finally healed. It feels like 2012 again.
Before I continue my review of the event, a little background:
After its rise to being one of the most well-attended libertarian gatherings on the planet and also becoming the most cryptocurrency-welcoming event as far as its vendors are concerned, the Porcupine Freedom Festival, which is organized each year by volunteers, but ultimately controlled by the Free State Project corporation, ended up making a few key errors. Yes, it was a mistake for them to kick me and my radio show out after a few volunteers made a stink back in 2016, but I don’t hold a grudge, and at the time even published a blog encouraging people to continue attending Porcfest.
That’s one of the more obvious mistakes they made, as despite my urging of people to continue to attend, attendance did drop sharply the following year, from what I have been told. However, the other things they botched were even more damaging to the event.
For years, and from before they decided to ban me, people who’ve attended the Porcupine Freedom Festival each Summer in Northern New Hampshire have complained that its recent years have been lacking in fun, partially due to an ever-increasing burden of rules at the event and centralized decision making on the part of the Free State Project’s board of directors. For instance, longtime vendors felt pushed out of the “Agora Valley” prime trading zone by the artificial extra costs imposed by the FSP onto the RV campsites in that area.
Nearly Empty Agora Valley @ Porcfest 2019
Where did these artificial costs come from? The story of Agora Valley is one that libertarians should know well and should have seen coming, but the libertarians running the FSP failed to see it and fell into the same centralized control trap they typically argue against. In the earlier years of the Porcupine Freedom Festival at Roger’s Campground, the first few rows of the RV camping area became, through natural market functions, the most desirable real estate in the park. The reason is that all the major speakers and events are held at the Pavilion at the bottom of the hill, so most campers will pass through that part of the RV area on their way to attend Porcfest’s various events. Eventually the zone was dubbed “Agora Valley” and vendors would compete to reserve the prime spots first for the upcoming year’s event, however the cost to the vendors at the time was the normal lot fee charged by the campground.
Eventually, someone at the FSP got the bright idea that Agora Valley should be managed by the FSP’s festival organizers, and a vendor’s fee and agreement was created. When asked, the FSP’s representatives generally will defend the fees as reasonable, since they include a ticket to the event, promotion to the event’s VIPs, as well as a listing in the event’s “Whova” event program app, for a very small premium on top. They are right – the Agora Valley vendor prices are reasonable. However, the market is clearly speaking, more this year than ever before, that the fees and rules are not welcome.
However the other way the market responded during this year’s Porcupine Freedom Festival, was the creation of the “Where it’s at” zone deeper in the RV area. Longtime Porcfest vendors and attendees, fed up with paying more than they had to or simply frustrated by the restrictions for Agora Valley, decided to opt-out and setup a hot zone of economic activity in the RV rows past the Valley’s “jurisdiction”. This mass exodus left Agora Valley nearly a ghost town at this year’s Porcfest.
To be fair, according to Shawn Grissom, this year’s Porcfest vendor coordinator, there were vendors in the lonely Agora Valley that did very well this year. That said, even Grissom agreed the FSP should let go of trying to organize the campground and focus on their event production alone. Let the market self-organize again in the camp/RV area.
Heroic Open-Air Drug Market at Porcfest 2019
Aside from the centrally-planned failure of Agora Valley, the rest of the 2019 Porcupine Freedom Festival went off well and received rave reviews. The Paxtons did a great job of bringing balance back to where Porcfest wasn’t just a family vacation spot – with approximately 200 kids and teenagers in attendance – but also a great party. This year there was a naked guy down at the campfire at night on at least a couple of occasions that I saw, along with a topless young lady, plus an amazing open-air drug market.
During the final night’s Free Ross auction to benefit imprisoned liberty hero and founder of the Silk Road underground market, Ross Ulbricht, there were two vendors set up just outside on a couple of picnic tables right next to each other. One vendor offered items for sale on a whiteboard such as “not mushrooms” and “not pot” while the other seller’s blackboard offered shrooms, flower, and edibles. It even included a shout-out to #freeross.
The little things like that made this year’s Porcfest feel like Porcfests of the past, but what made this year’s Porcupine Freedom Festival historic was what happened at the end of the Free Ross auction. After two hours and well over $10,000 had been raised from bidders on dozens of donated items, two activists donated a couple of eighth-of-an-ounce containers of cannabis to the remaining auction items. The auction was run by Mancamp founder Jay Noone and since he doesn’t have a auctioneer’s license, the entire event was civil disobedience. Noone then made Porcfest and likely New Hampshire history by auctioning off the cannabis to two lucky winners including me and the his assistant, Angie. What fun! (more…)