The First 420 Celebration in Massachusetts

Massachusetts_Marijuana_By Lukasz Stefanski
Photo by: By Lukasz Stefanski/ Shutterstock

Massachusetts legalized marijuana for adult use in December 2016, yet regulators have yet to finalize the rules for business licensing, tax collections, and other administrative functions of the government in the new branch of the state’s marijuana industry. Not only has this has begun to hinder the industry’s current functionality, it has slowed the timeline for when recreational dispensaries will begin opening across the state, impacting the 420 celebration.

Though regulations are not yet completed for the recreational side of things, public support has continued to grow – energized by the upcoming opportunity and the collective sense of positive legal change. Whereas years previous were full-on protests to end prohibition, only marked by minor celebrations of decriminalization or medical legalization, Massachusetts now has the voter-backed legal wherewithal to foster in a celebration emblematic of the cannabis-infused holiday, that includes 420 cannabis deals and events for consumers.

The Current Limitations

The lack of a place for recreational consumers to purchase the now-legal plant is of major concern, both because of the lost tax revenues and an inability to immediately affect the black market sale of marijuana. While the law legalizing adult use was passed by voters in November 2016 and was signed into law just over a month later, there are only two ways for recreational consumers to acquire marijuana in the state:

  1. Another adult age 21 or older may gift up to an ounce as long as (a) it was not advertised and (b) it is received without payment.
  2. Buy marijuana illegally from a person through phone text messages like someone who does not live in a legal state.

Given these options, it makes sense that the state has not seen rise to any large number of events. For many consumers, the shaky legal ground of acquiring marijuana until dispensaries for adult consumers open shop compounded with the laws prohibiting the use in any public place allow events like 4/20 in Massachusetts, even the first, to seem best left to small social circles in private residences.

This is not always the case, however, as the Boston Common has been the host of many cannabis-related protests, including 4/20 smoke sessions, over the years. The Boston Common is the oldest city park in the United States, opening in 1634, and every so often the park becomes the meeting place for eccentric cannabis enthusiasts who want to peacefully protest.

While the Massachusetts first 420 after legalization may not have included a party in the park, the state has seen an increase in cannabis-related events and activities throughout the year. Unlike Colorado, for instance, where 2 Chains played a free show in 2017, 4/20 was celebrated with interpersonal friendships and the legal use of cannabis (even if it was acquired beyond the current structure of the law).

Check back frequently for upcoming information as Massachusetts pushes further into the reformative cannabis reality sought by voters.