(JOPLIN, Mo.) Nearly 4,000 people made it out to the 11th annual ‘Cannabis Revival’ in Joplin Saturday, advocating for legalization of marijuana.

They’re advocating for “freedom,” and they want it “now,” say the crowd in a chant directed from the stage.

That leader on stage? Kelly Maddy, chair of the Joplin chapter of NORML, who organized the event, which is the fourth largest of its kind in the country.

He says they’re for “any advancement toward the reform of marijuana laws, whether it be medical, industrial, recreational.”

Maddy is looking for involvement. “We’re trying to get people active, get the literature in their hands, and trying to take the next step on how to get involved with the local group, where to go to meetings, how to use their skills to benefit advocacy groups that work toward this issue.”

The event faced criticism from the community, specifically on the Joplin Globe’s comments section and facebook page, but Maddy says they are the exception.

“[Reaction is] overwhelmingly positive,” Maddy said. “There are always going to be people – obviously the ones that don’t come out – that talk crap on it aren’t going to be the ones we see here.”

“It’s kinda fun living in the bible belt, and having this here,” Maddy joked.

As far as smoking on the grounds, Maddy says, “There some people I’ve seen here [smoking,] we try to make sure they know its illegal, we try to tell them to put it in their car.”

A vendor selling items at Cannabis Revival. (TFJ Photo/Blake James)

“We aren’t enforcement so we can’t arrest, but we try to keep that out of festival grounds,” he said. He meets with law enforcement every year before the festival, including Chief Lane Roberts of the Joplin Police Department.

“it’s a peaceful crowd. we don’t have any violence,” Maddy said. “it’s kind of different from a lot of other concerts that are alcohol fueled, but usually out here it’s pretty legit.”

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