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Activists Light Up in Front of the White House

Maureen Meehan

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Pot smoke wafted across the White House lawn on Saturday as activists, toting a 50-foot inflatable joint and a cage to highlight the absurdity of locking up marijuana users, called on President Obama to remove pot from the DEA’s dangerous drug list, to decriminalize pot at the federal level and to release the country’s remaining pot prisoners.

At 4:20 p.m., the first major marijuana smoke-in in the nation’s capital began as people lit up. Plumes of smoke hovered in the air above the crowd as the D.C. Metropolitan Police and Secret Service stood by calmly, almost amused, and made no arrests. After all, pot is legal in Washington, D.C. as of last year.

“The police were totally chill and didn't arrest anyone,” said Medea Benjamin, founder of anti-war collective Code Pink. “There was a great open mic with lots of chilling stories about prison time for marijuana.”

Yes, the rally was about smoking weed, listening to a great reggae band and enjoying some free munchies from Food Not Bombs, but it also intended to highlight the staggering statistics that the War on Drugs has produced and the millions of lives it has ruined.

According to the Drug Policy Alliance’s 2014 statistics, 1.5 million people were arrested for drug law violations, 83 percent of which was for possession only—not dealing. Pot law violations reached 700,003—88 percent for possession only. 

Adam Eidinger, D.C. pot legalization activist and the protest’s organizer, described the smoke-in as the most aggressive way to draw attention to the approximately 5 million pot-related arrests that have occurred since President Obama took office.

“We won’t be ignored anymore," Eidinger said, as reported by the Christian Science Monitor. "I’m not the biggest advocate of public use, but for now, this is a tactic that we need because we have been ignored too long. Frankly, we don’t have anything to lose… All of a sudden Democrats have discovered states’ rights on cannabis laws, but that isn’t good enough, we need legalization across the nation.” 

(Photo Courtesy of In USA News)

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