Protesters Follow Through with White House Smoke-Out


Following through with a protest that has split the cannabis law reform movement, activists marched in Washington, D.C., and, in an act of civil disobedience, smoked marijuana in front of the White House. The smoke-out was supposed to start at 4:20pm Eastern Time, but according to Twitter, protesters may have gotten about a four minute jump on the smoke-out. I got word from activist Adam Eidinger, who led the successful effort to legalize cannabis in Washington, D.C., and was the primary organizer of the protest, that there were two $25 tickets levied at the protest. Eidinger feels that the event was a success and that “a message was sent to the President.”

I previously caught up with Mr. Eidinger, who I respect greatly, on a phone call for a previous blog, where he mentioned that he was inspired by Bill Maher’s call to legalize nationwide and he expounded on why advocates planned the public smoke-out: “We won’t be ignored anymore. 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. President Obama should reschedule immediately to Schedule 3 at the worst and immediately pardon all marijuana growers. All of a sudden Democrats have discovered states’ rights on cannabis laws, but that isn’t good enough, we need legalization across the nation.”

Marijuana Majority’s Tom Angell, another activist that I greatly respect, also gave me his point of view:  “While there’s certainly a role for civil disobedience in social justice movements, you usually protest by committing acts that you think should be legal but aren’t. Allowing the smoking of marijuana in public parks would not be good public policy.”

Shucking aside any criticisms of the public White House smoke-out, activists carried around a 50-foot inflatable joint, urging President Obama to remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances (as a bill filed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders would accomplish):

President Obama, while not perfect by any means on marijuana policy and greater criminal justice reform, has made progress on the issues and it does seem that our nation is making great strides in improving the failed and harmful policy of cannabis prohibition. The future of the movement is certainly bright, with more states likely to legalize marijuana in 2016 (and beyond), along with bipartisan momentum generated for national reforms. We shall see whether today’s White House smoke-out helps or hurts the cause, but it is clear that the cannabis community is sick and tired of being treated as 2nd-class citizens and will continue to take the fight for equality to the ballot box, the Halls of Congress and the White House.



(Featured photo credit: @SelfieRobot)

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.