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!
Now, Keene’s mayoral candidate Nobody, the man formerly known as Rich Paul who created and led the original 420 rallies in Keene, has announced a special ten-year anniversary smoke out will occur this Saturday, September 28th at 4:20pm, at Keene’s Central Square. Nobody will address the rally and it will likely feature other speakers. Here’s an excerpt from Nobody’s official announcement as posted on his campaign website, ElectNobody.com:
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…