Monday, April 4, 2016

Hundreds smoke cannabis outside White House

Hundreds Inhale Pot at Surreal White House Protest - US News - Steven Nelson:

April 2, 2016 - "When the smoke cleared, nobody was arrested for participating in a large and blatantly illegal marijuana smoke-in outside the White House.

"Attendees of the Saturday event, billed as 'Reschedule 420' by the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, urged President Barack Obama to take action in his remaining months in office to reschedule marijuana -- to allow greater research into its medicinal value -- and to pardon jailed pot offenders.

"Though many were willing to get arrested, it appeared that just two people, seemingly chosen at random from a smoke-filled crowd, were detained by police.  One of them ...  said both received $25 public consumption tickets.

"A light-handed approach to protesters is characteristic of police in the nation’s capital, but Saturday’s restraint surprised attendees well-aware that nearly one million Americans are arrested every year for marijuana....

"Residents of the nation’s capital voted overwhelming in 2014 to legalize personal possession of marijuana under local law, but public consumption remains an arrestable offense. And federal law enforcement officers can arrest people anywhere in the city on federal charges.

"Earlier in the afternoon, the fate of demonstrators appeared uncertain. Many wrote numbers for a legal aid hotline on their arms.

"The first test of officers’ intentions came when protesters, about a half hour before the designated smoking time of 4:20 p.m., ignored Secret Service demands that a giant 51-foot inflatable 'joint' not be filled with air near the White House. Protesters unfurled what essentially was a long plastic bag and flipped on a portable cattle fan to loud cheers as dozens of people paraded the painted prop through Lafayette Park north to H St. NW.

"The inflated joint caused many law enforcement officers to chase after the defiant splinter procession, and left the main event less thoroughly policed ahead of mass public smoking at 4:20 p.m.

"Many seasoned cannabis reformers spoke ahead of the main draw, along with minor party political candidates and members of Rhode Island’s Healing Church, which claims the First Amendment protects their right to consume cannabis – a matter not legally settled.... Some members of the marijuana reform movement ... had expressed unease with plans to smoke marijuana, and no major national cannabis reform group endorsed the protest.

"Though dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people smoked marijuana in public, there did not appear to be complaints about unwitting tourists or children inhaling the smoke.... To anyone nearby, large marijuana-leaf flags and signs on stakes made clear the nature of the event, which swelled with young adults as the time to smoke approached."

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