Videos Filmed and Edited by Ford Fischer
Article and Photos by Alejandro Alvarez
Hundreds of pro-cannabis activists lit joints at the White House on Saturday in an act of civil disobedience calling for President Obama to reschedule the substance.
Billed as a “mass consumption of cannabis” by organizer DCMJ, the District area’s largest pro-pot advocacy group, one of DC’s most popular tourists attractions quickly transformed into a scene reminiscent of a reggae concert.
Demonstrators lit-up en masse at exactly 4:20 p.m., after dozens paraded through Lafayette Square hoisting up a 51-foot long inflatable balloon in the form of a joint. The rally ended with a brief march up 17th St., towing a loudspeaker playing an assortment of reggae and soft rock, while cheered on by a number of bystanding tourists and pedestrians.
DCMJ founder Adam Eidinger did not apply for a protest permit, a Secret Service spokesman told the Washington Post. Likewise, many attendees, partaking in an act of civil disobedience, were prepared for possible arrest.
“Smoke it anyways,” said Edward Forchion, a restaurant owner and activist known in the pot community as ‘NJ Weedman.’ Forchion chose to light up regardless. “I’ve always been about civil disobedience,” he said, “they’ll be forced to change the law.”
Though there were ultimately no arrests, two protesters were detained by police outside the White House and fined $25 for public smoking. A fellow demonstrator gave them both money to cover the fine.
While marijuana in DC was decriminalized by a ballot measure which took effect last summer, its possession and consumption is still punishable by hefty fines and jail time across much of the country. It is also still criminalized on federal property, such as at the White House.
Cannabis is listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration, a designation which it shares with heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. Under Schedule 1, clinical research of cannabis is restricted and possession is federally illegal.
“As long as cannabis is treated in the same category of drugs as heroin, with no accepted medical use, police will continue to arrest & lockup our brothers and sisters,” organizer DCMJ said on Facebook.