When the Freedom Fighters started (the first national hemp organization), I enticed the membership to attend pot rallies, starting with the Ann Arbor Hash Bash in early April, with free campgrounds and free food, but the kicker was the medals. For every rally a member attended, they received a really cool Freedom Fighter medal and wearing these soon became a great badge of honor for cannabis activists across the land.
The Freedom Fighters not only ushered in the hemp movement, they brought life back to the rally scene. Because media coverage of rallies was usually intensely negative, and because photos of hippies smoking pot were considered non-productive, NORML had pursued a policy of allowing public pot events to die a quiet death, and instead concentrated on pressing Congress for legal reforms. It was the beginning of a suits versus stoners divide that continues today. My plan was to get everyone to dress up in Colonial-style outfits and waving Betsy Ross flags so we could recapture those sigils to our cause. On the left is the very first Freedom Fighter pin ever forged and Terry Michell made a flag of it and carried that flag around Alaska for a superb counter-intelligence operation resisting attempts to re-criminalize in that state. It was just one of many outstanding missions carried out by our short-lived movement. For a few years every April we met after the Hash Bash for 4:20 council, where we would select the Freedom Fighter of the Year by voice vote. We also threw 4:20 events when we traveled to Rainbow Gatherings, but those Hash Bash 420 councils were probably the first major 420 events outside the three that had happened on Mount Tam in the late 1980’s. And after the park police shut down that event, the Freedom Fighters took over the center of gravity on 420 celebrations. After we were disbanded, that energy moved over to the Cannabis Cup. Within a decade, 420 went global.