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This year, 4/20 in the nation’s capital will take place on 4/2.
That’s because local advocates for legal marijuana want to “reschedule” the drug down from its federally prohibited status. In effect, they’re planning to gather outside of the White House tomorrow, April 2, and participate in a “smoke-in” as an act of civil disobedience. D.C. cannabis activist Adam Eidinger says the demonstrators will come equipped with a “51-foot joint” to make the link between District statehood and the weed legalization that’s taken place here—despite previous congressional inference—glaringly obvious.
“We’re tired of being ignored,” the advocate, who led the Initiative 71 ballot movement, recently explained to City Desk. “Since we’ve legalized here and 70 percent of the public voted for it, you don’t think [President Barack Obama] could send a letter to [local group] DCMJ, any communication? Somehow the president has this sterling reputation on cannabis… The president doesn’t get a pass because he’s a Democrat and I’m a Democrat.”
Eidinger said he expects scores of locals to attend the smoke-in (where some participants could choose to consume edibles), adding that advocates from other cities like Boston and Philadelphia indicated they’re going to attend. Many of them, however, may not feel comfortable breaking the law for a purportedly just cause, so smoking demonstrators will likely be instructed to huddle separately, the activist said. Eidinger intends for those who choose to illegally smoke in public not to resist arrest—”classic civil disobedience.”
“It’s not about getting into a kerfuffle with police,” he said.
An email sent to DCMJ subscribers on Friday morning confirmed that the demonstrators will meet at 1:45 p.m. on Saturday at the corner of 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. There, they will carry the joint designed by artist Cesar Maxit toward the White House. The civil disobedience is planned for (you might have guessed) 4:20 p.m., according to the email. There will be “a blessing” before consumption takes place.
— #UpAllNightBoyz (@NatureBoy_Jones) April 1, 2016
As for the demonstration’s statehood angle, Eidinger pointed out that it’s the kind of thing that will be clear to D.C. activists but easily explained to those from elsewhere: “Out-of-towners will ask, ‘How come 51 feet?’ Because we want to be the 51st state,” he said, chuckling.
Local marijuana advocates are planning a “campaign school” tonight to teach messaging. It’s scheduled to be held at the St. Stephen’s Church in Columbia Heights starting at 6:30 p.m. and lasting until 8:30 p.m.
“It has to be civil disobedience because we’re not getting anywhere with this administration,” Eidinger concludes. “I will totally cooperate but we’re not asking for a permit.”
Here’s what DCMJ expects following the smoke-in, per their email:
“1) NO ARRESTS – After consuming cannabis as an act of civil disobedience, we march down Pennsylvania Ave. toward 17th Street for a victory lap!
2) ARRESTS OCCUR AND PEOPLE ARE RELEASED QUICKLY – After paying a small fine ($100 or less) people are released Saturday evening.
3) ARRESTS OCCUR AND PEOPLE ARE DETAINED UNTIL MONDAY – After going before a judge, you are released Monday afternoon and will likely have to return to court at a later date.”
In early March, Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s office promulgated an order establishing a task force to study the viability of cannabis clubs, semi-public venues where people can consume weed legally, in the District. The order followed a bill by the D.C. Council creating it.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery