Friday, March 02, 2012

SmokeOut for Safe Access Rally - LA Weekly

SmokeOut for Safe Access Rally
Los Angeles City Hall

Around 4:20 yesterday afternoon about 150 people marched in protest to recent federal threats to medicinal marijuana. The event was organized by Americans for Safe Access, the Music & Medicine Project and B-Real of Cypress Hill, whose SmokeOut Festival is happening this weekend in San Bernardino. The group first assembled on the west steps of L.A. City Hall.

​Much of the crowd was under the age of 25 and seemed largely interested in seeing B-Real. Those old enough to rent cars were decked out in t-shirts with slogans ("Pills Kill," "Legalize It"), bloodshot smiley faces or, in the case of at least three people, shirts supporting Ron Paul. Many carried homemade signs with messages like "420 Nurse" and "Marijuana is Medecine [sic]."

Pot smoke could be smelled from as far away as the former home of the Occupy Wall Street movement around the corner. But for this afternoon none of the uniformed officers seemed particularly concerned; in fact, the police were downright polite.

​Before the march, Americans for Safe Access' director Don Duncan gave a speech. He was one of three people wearing a suit, and battled with the bus traffic to be heard. MC Supernatural accompanied on djembe by a man named Turtle, delivered a freestyle verse that was pretty entertaining. In between the speeches the crowd shouted things like "Blaze it up" and "Roll that spliff!"

The organizers handed out double-sided posters for participants who hadn't brought their own. One side promoted the Smokeout Festival, while the flip side declared that "Marijuana is Medicine."

A little before 4:20 the crowd departed for the Federal Building, three blocks downhill from city hall. With assistance from a patrol car and communicative organizers, the crowd crossed calmly with the traffic signals and refrained from interrupting everyday life.

Ten minutes later the group arrived at a rather deserted federal building. In between chants of "DEA, go away!" a few more people spoke.

Tommy Chong, dressed in a Up in Smoke t-shirt, made a reluctant speech before singing a song about marijuana, while B-Real expressed his satisfaction at being on the outside of the federal building rather than in it.

​Less than an hour after starting, following a few more chants and an impromptu drum circle, the crowd dispersed carrying their signs into a darkening downtown.

"I feel it went really well," B-Real told me on his way out. "A lot of people came to show support for what we're trying to do here and for their rights as medical marijuana users. I'm happy about the turnout."

SmokeOut Rally @ LA Weekly

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