Drugs

Protest Plan Calls for Huge Crowd to Smoke Marijuana Outside White House to Push Obama to Do Something While He Still Can

DC pot legalization activist Adam Eidinger is leading the charge.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Yellowj

Inspired by a warning from comedian Bill Maher that progress on marijuana reform could be rolled back after President Obama leaves office, pot advocates in the nation's capital have announced a bold protest next month to press Obama to move on marijuana while he still can.

While Obama has largely not interfered with marijuana legalization in states that have approved it, he has also signaled that he is not going to be proactive on the issue. A little more than a month ago, he said marijuana reform is not on his list of end-of-term priorities, and his press spokesperson, Josh Earnest, paraphrased his position thusly: "'If you feel so strongly about it, and you believe there is so much public support for what it is that you're advocating, then why don't you pass legislation about it and we'll see what happens.'"

Led by indomitable DC activist Adam Eidinger, the man behind the District's successful marijuana legalization initiative in 2014, the DC Cannabis Campaign is calling for supporters to gather in front of the White House to demand Obama reschedule marijuana through executive action, as he has the power to do, and pardon people jailed for marijuana crimes. Attendees will be encouraged to fire up in acts of civil disobedience. The action is set for Saturday, April 2, "rescheduled" from April 20, the traditional day for 4/20 celebrations of cannabis culture.

In an interview with US News and World Report, Eidinger predicted at least 1,000 people would show up, and maybe many more.

"There is a huge pent-up demand for this right now; we actually do have the support to do this," he said. "We're calling on the whole country to come. This is a national mobilization. Some of us may end up in jail, and that’s fine. It’s actually necessary at this point."

Eidinger said the DC Cannabis Campaign has polled its supporters on whether to organize the protest after Maher warned on his HBO show legalization in the states is at risk as long as federal pot prohibition remains. Maher toked up on air as he issued his warning. Maher will be invited to attend the protest, Eidinger said.

"We have to take action now, that's the idea," Eidinger explained. "If it’s not going to happen under Obama, it’s sure as hell not going to happen with Hillary."

Obama, who has said he considers marijuana no more harmful than alcohol, represents the best chance for rescheduling marijuana and for emptying the prisons of pot offenders, Eidinger argued.

"He should pardon tens of thousands of marijuana growers in jail right now. And he should be pardoning them all," he says. "The war on drugs is a failure? Mass incarceration is a failure? Then do something about it."

Protesters are not anti-Obama, Eidinger said, they just want the president to do the right thing.

"This is going to be an extremely personal protest with the president," Eidinger says. "It is not going to be Trump people out there. This is going to be his so-called base that thought he would do something for us essentially giving up. The only way to stop this protest is to start doing something. We threw the gauntlet down today, essentially."

See Maher's remarks here:

 

Phillip Smith is editor of the AlterNet Drug Reporter and author of the Drug War Chronicle.

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