A gala for potheads? Last night, 300 cannactivists congregated at Capitale in New York, courtesy of Washington, DC's Marijuana Policy Project. Drinks, dinner and dancing were on tap, as well as a program that included awards given to Rep. Maurice Hinchey (Legislative Leadership) and Rhonda O'Donnell (Activist of the Year). Jackie "The Jokeman" Martling and Jim Hightower hosted, and Montell Williams provided the evening's emotional high point with a teary 17-minute speech about his own battle with multiple sclerosis.
"I'm not about politics, I'm about a mission," the chrome-domed TV talk-show personality pontificated. "I'm in pain 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I'm in pain right now. I'm probably the government's worst enemy. I've put my black ass on the front lines for weed. It's a long road right now, but we're making a difference."
MPP executive director Rob Kampia outlined the organization's recent achievements: the latest Hinchey-Rohrbacher medical-marijuana bill, which received 168 votes (it needs 218 to pass); passage of medical-marijuana laws in Rhode Island and Montana; and upcoming efforts in South Dakota (the next state to vote on medical marijuana in November), Nevada, Minnesota, Illinois, Oregon and New York.
MPP's chief funder Peter Lewis called aiding the fight to legalize marijuana "the greatest contribution you can make." He asked attendees to "be generous and supportive, more than you've ever been."
Attendees included John Perry Barlow, Angel Raich, Chris Conrad, Mikki Norris, Josh Gilbert, Steven Hager, Maia Szalavitz, Eric Sterling, Valerie Vande Panne, Carlo McCormick, Brad Balfour, Dan Viets, Bob Newland, David Bienenstock, Danny Danko, Steve Silverman and Abby Bair.
A trailer for Gilbert's film a/k/a Tommy Chong, which opens tomorrow at the the Film Forum, preceded a funky 5-song set by jazz trio and MPP advisory board members Medeski Martin and Wood.