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Weed Advocates Plan Massive Smoke-In at White House for the Upcoming Weekend

  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    View attachment 49714 The idea of marijuana smoke wafting across the White House lawn and snaking around the tall Ionic columns of the iconic Truman Balcony, perhaps even sneaking inside past the gilded furniture and portraits of presidents past, is a tantalizing prospect for organizers of a planned Pennsylvania Avenue demonstration.

    Grassroots activitists at Saturday’s scheduled 2 p.m. marijuana legalization protest are armed with a 51-foot inflatable joint, a cage to lock up hypothetical cannabis “prisoners” and other attention-grabbing paraphernalia. Those gathered will rally for the millions of people arrested for marijuana during Barack Obama’s tenure and call for the president to deschedule cannabis so it’s no longer among the most prohibited substances in the country. According to organizers, the event will culminate at 4:20 p.m. with what they are saying will be the first major marijuana “smoke-in” in the nation’s capital. The egregious public consumption of marijuana will likely result in mass arrests — and that’s part of the plan.

    But instead of garnering widespread support among like-minded brethren, many in the cannabis scene and growing industry are avoiding the demonstration, and some are questioning the logic of such tactics. The ambivalence highlights philosophical divisions within the marijuana movement: As the crusade to normalize cannabis finally achieves gains, what’s the best way forward to achieve its final goals?

    Organizers conceived of the protest after the Obama signaled earlier this year he was not planning on major marijuana reform before the end of his administration. That, combined with the 5 million marijuana-related arrests that organizers say have transpired during Obama’s tenure, was enough to inspire action. “For someone who supposedly wants to stop incarceration, he has done nothing to stop this,” said Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ, the organization behind the successful 2015 effort to legalize marijuana in the nation’s capital and among the chief organizers of the smoke-in. “Here in D.C. [District of Columbia], we are an island of legalized marijuana surrounded by prohibition. People leaving the city are at risk of arrest. We want rights in all 50 states.”

    Eidinger says he offered to call off the event, for which he didn’t seek a permit, if the president agreed to a “cannabis summit” with marijuana advocates. Since that hasn’t happened, organizers are moving forward with the demonstration, which according to Eidinger will include protestors representing multiple East Coast chapters of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and organizations such as Weed for Warriors Project. Demonstrators will also be quietly advocating to make the District of Columbia the 51st state; that’s why the joint is 51 feet long.

    But the protest hasn’t received support from the likes of the biggest marijuana groups like Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) or NORML’s national wing. Nor will attendees likely include marijuana industry groups or many pro-marijuana politicians or celebrities such as Bill Maher, who smoked a joint on the air during his HBO show last month to argue for legalization.

    “We ultimately don’t really participate in those types of events,” said Mason Tvert, MPP’s communications director. Tvert himself is no stranger to attention-grabbing protests. Prior to his current position, Tvert helmed the marijuana legalization organization Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) based in Colorado, where his tactics included sponsoring controversial billboards; challenging John Hickenlooper, a former brewery owner turned Denver’s mayor and now Colorado’s governor, to a theoretical beer-versus-marijuana “drug-off”; and having a protestor run around in a chicken suit. But none of Tvert’s stunts ever involved him breaking the law, and he says his strategies, then and now, are focused on activities that have the potential to push the marijuana movement forward.

    “If your goal is to make a statement, that is one thing,” Tvert said. “If your goal is to make change, that is potentially another.” (There’s also the concern that breaking the law could endanger MPP and other national marijuana organization’s federal nonprofit status.)

    Some cannabis advocates don’t believe Saturday’s planned protest will change anything. As DPA’s national affairs director Bill Piper noted in a tweet Friday: “Mj smoke-in like open carry rally where people walk around w/ AR-15s. Participants feel good but voters turned off.”

    “We definitely feel there are a lot of ways to advocate for reform,” said Kaitlyn Boecker, DPA’s policy coordinator, in a phone interview. “We just don’t feel that public consumption on federal property is the right message.”

    Boecker added Obama might not be the best target for those aiming to remove marijuana from the country’s list of controlled substances. “The process of administratively rescheduling marijuana is complex,” she said. “And President Obama cannot act unilaterally to deschedule cannabis. Even with the roadblocks we are facing in Congress right now, the legislative route is the best way to repeal the federal prohibition of marijuana.”

    Some cannabis activists go further, fearing the smoke-in could hurt their cause. “The folks who are organizing this, Adam Eidinger and others, I have a lot of respect for them,” said Tom Angell, founder of the cannabis advocacy group Marijuana Majority. “But I feel what they are doing here is unhelpful and potentially dangerous to our continued success in D.C.”

    Marijuana supporters are currently lobbying to allow recreational marijuana sales in the nation’s capital as well as permit private smoking clubs. Angell is concerned smoking pot at a major tourist attraction, especially during spring break for many of the country’s schoolkids, could derail that progress. “We need to help people see that legalization can be done responsibly in a way that doesn’t create harm,” he said. “Smoking marijuana in a public place where families from around the country and their children are vacationing doesn’t make this argument that legalization can be implemented responsibly.”

    The increasingly powerful marijuana industry is also distancing itself from such acts of civil disobedience. “From a business perspective, this is exactly the opposite of what we have made strides to communicate to people in D.C.,” said Taylor West, deputy director the National Cannabis Industry Association. “Part of how we have been successful is to show this industry is made up of responsible small business owners who care about their communities, who care about ending prohibition, and who aren’t looking to act in an irresponsible way. That is how we get change. It’s not doing something like this.”

    Plus, noted Angell, civil disobedience is a tactic best reserved as a last-ditch effort, when every other approach has failed. And these days, he said, the marijuana movement is scoring successes such as state legalization victories and shifting opinions in Congress without resorting to such extreme measures. “People are still being put into handcuffs and thrown into cages for no reason, but that is changing,” he said. “Civil disobedience is an important tactic, but not in this case.”

    While Eidinger considers folks like Angell and DPA’s Piper his “brothers” in the movement, he’s frustrated by the lack of support for the smoke-in. While states like Colorado, Washington and Oregon now have thriving legal marijuana markets, he says the fact that millions of people, especially minorities, are still being locked up for cannabis offenses means elected officials aren’t doing enough to end the harmful effects of marijuana prohibition, and now is the time to hold their feet to the fire.

    “I really question the validity of the viewpoint that protests are not justified at the White House right now,” he said. “Just when we should be putting pressure on the president, there is no pressure. It’s as if they want to keep prohibition longer.”

    While Eidinger isn’t opposed to public marijuana consumption within limits, such as smoking, vaping and consuming edibles on the sidewalk, like organizers plan to do today, he says the point of the demonstration isn’t to rally for public pot use — it’s to push for reform in the most successful way possible. “They all say, ‘We are against smoke-ins.’ But that is one of our most powerful weapons,” said Eidinger, pointing to the hundreds of Keystone XL protestors arrested the White House in 2014, a year before Obama rejected the controversial oil pipeline project.

    Eidinger, a longtime activist who has been arrested 17 times, including during several marijuana-related actions, said he’s not eager to be locked up again. “I have a kid, I don’t want to be in jail, but at this time in my life, I feel that this is such an important civil rights issue, I feel like we might need to be in jail to change these laws,” he said.

    And while he’s disappointed in the divisions in the marijuana movement over such actions, he’s also savvy enough to know the additional attention the controversy is garnering for the protest could end up helping his cause. As he noted, “Maybe it will make for better copy.”

    By Joel Warner - IBT/April 2, 2015
    Newshawk Crew

    Author Bio

    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.


  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    White House Smoke-In a Success, This Past Saturday

    [IMGL=white]https://drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=49730&stc=1&d=1459696850[/IMGL]WASHINGTON — Hundreds of people who support marijuana legalization got high in front of the White House on Saturday in a demonstration aimed at getting cannabis removed from the federal government’s most serious category of illegal drugs.

    The mass protest, led by DCMJ, a D.C.-based marijuana group whose activists could be spotted wearing distinctive red, smurf-like ski hats, called for President Barack Obama to take marijuana off the list of Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. The federal government classification given to the “most dangerous drugs” lumps marijuana in with more serious drugs like heroin, bath salts and LSD, allowing it to be prosecuted aggressively.

    At around 4:20 p.m. Eastern time, which was chosen because of the number 420’s association with weed, the protesters lit their joints, fired up their bowls and pulled on their vaporizers in unison with little disruption from the Secret Service or the local police. They even inflated a 51-foot plastic inflatable joint with the message “Obama, deschedule cannabis now” that was made by artists especially for the occasion.

    Adam Eidinger, a founder of DCMJ and leader of the 2014 campaign to legalize recreational marijuana in the District of Columbia, said that law enforcement initially refused to let the massive inflatable joint into Lafayette Square Park, but they were able to circumvent them by smuggling it in deflated and inflating it in the park. “Just like good stoners everywhere, we snuck in a 51-foot joint, past the Secret Service,” Eidinger joked.

    Smoking in public remains illegal in the district, despite a November 2014 vote to legalize it. It is illegal on federal land, including Lafayette Square Park and the pedestrian street in front of it, under any circumstances. Eidinger had expected arrests to be made — even publicly expressing his readiness to be arrested for the cause. But he had not heard of any arrests, he said, though some police citations were issued. The Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department could not immediately be reached to confirm the number of arrests or citations.

    It was clear, however, that the D.C. cops largely turned a blind eye to public marijuana consumption. Several motorcycle-bound officers provided an escort for the group to march on K Street NW following the protest, during which many demonstrators smoked openly. Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It” cannabis anthem blared from speakers as the parade went forward.

    The march concluded at the corner of K Street NW and Vermont Avenue, where protest organizers had attacked a mock jail cell to the trailer post of an SUV in protest of the incarceration of marijuana smokers. A sign above the cage-turned-cell said “Jail Is Not A Drug Policy” in big red letters.

    Obama has the constitutional authority to remove marijuana from Schedule I without the need for congressional approval. Switching it to Schedule III, for example, would allow marijuana businesses in states where the drug is legal to deduct business expenses, and restore access to student loans and public housing for convicted users, among other benefits, according to Ilya Shapiro, a legal scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute.

    Among the presidential candidates, only Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a Democratic contender, has said he would remove marijuana from Schedule I as president. Sanders also introduced a bill in Congress in November that would legalize it completely. Eidinger said that if Hillary Clinton wants to ensure high turnout from Sanders’ supporters in the general election, endorsing the reclassification of marijuana would be a good way to do it. “As a Bernie supporter, I do want to see a united Democratic Party, but you gotta give us something — this is like in the top three or four issues of Bernie supporters,” Eidinger said, before excusing himself momentarily for a gulp of water. “I’m a little cotton-mouthed, oh my God,” he said.

    Sanders was clearly the preferred candidate of rally attendees, many of whom sported “Bernie” pins and shirts. Other activists described their involvement in down-ballot races. Zack Pesavento, 29, a veteran of the D.C. legalization campaign, is president of 420 USA Super PAC, a Super PAC dedicated to electing pro-legalization members of Congress. The group has plans to help unseat Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), one of the fiercest opponents in Congress of Washington, D.C.’s attempts to legalize the substance.

    Sandra, a D.C.-based marijuana grower who was there with her husband, Josh, a certified arborist, said marijuana had been a godsend for her arthritis, sciatica and depression. They had left their two young boys with the kids’ grandparents. “The only harm that [legalization] would cause would be to the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies,” she said. “There are so many medications I don’t have to take because I smoke marijuana.” Sandra said she appreciates concerns people have about how marijuana has grown more concentrated over the years — but to her, it only made the case for legalization more obvious.

    “We need laws for it so we can regulate... so that people don’t have bad experiences,” she said.

    By Daniel Marans - The Huffington Post/April 2, 2016
    Newshawk Crew
  2. Cwb20022
    I agree with the non supporters of this.

    This is totally not the way to go to try and legalize cannabis. I mean they started at 4:20. Come on man. We gotta move away from the "stoner" stigma. And treat it in a serious way.

    Thats my opinion anyway......
  3. Beenthere2Hippie
    Being over twice your age, and having both viewed and taken part in dozens of successful freedom rallies in during my lifetime (Marches on Washington for racial freedoms, for sexual orientation freedoms and for cannabis freedoms), I will respectfully agree to disagree with your stance, CW.

    The fact is, time has proven that rallies such as this help in more way than one can imagine, and all press is good--and imperative--press when it comes to the our society's fundamental and genuine need for change.

    But thank you for sharing your view, as I'm sure you are not alone in it! All with views on either side of the matter are encouraged to add theirs.
  4. Cwb20022
    Oh im all for protest and rallies. I just think we need to move away from the "stoner" stigma and feel like things like a giant inflatable joint and starting at 4:20 just adds to what politicians assume cannibas smokers to be like already.

    We need to change politicians view of us. Away from cheech and chong and hippies. Make them more aware of the normal people that smoke.

    The only thing the people at this rally were missing from a stereotypical "stoner" is cheetos and orange juice. Lol.
  5. Nosferatus
    The thing about these kind of protests is that even if they ultimately have a legitimate point, the vast majority of participants view them as nothing but a big party, there's nothing inherently wrong with that, but it's far from the best way to advance any agenda. Similar issues exist with gay pride parades.
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