March 07, 2012

Cypress Hill and Guerilla Union bring out the masses for a peaceable march for Safe Access

Hundreds of people gathered today to stand in solidarity with B Real of Cypress Hill, Guerilla Union, Americans for Safe Access and The Medicine and the Music Project at Los Angeles City Hall for a peaceful protest and march for safe access. The protest comes in response to the recent Federal crack down and a proposed ban on medical marijuana in Los Angeles and just before the Smokeout Festival, a celebration of music and culture happening Saturday, March 3 in San Bernardino, CA.

B-Real and Guerilla Union have always considered SmokeOut Festival more than a showcase of musical talent. It's a movement of individuals supportive of decriminalization. "The artists’ have the ability to reach and educate their fans and followers in their respective communities including hip-hop, rock, Latin music or dance. It’s important we employ the collective voice of the music community and bring it to the medical marijuana debate. The SmokeOut for Safe Access rally serves as another podium and another step we need to take to further our success." explains B-Real. "Bringing people together to protest denying save access to medical cannabis patients is a part of the event's greater purpose, to bring about reform of current failed drug war policies and protect patients and businesses in California who voted to establish an industry here."

Don Duncan of American for Safe Access
Teaming up with Don Duncan of Americans for Safe Access and The Medicine and Music Project made sense for this political Rally. Teams of safety monitors and peace keepers were on hand to assure participants were non-violent and respectful of law enforcement officers. Guerilla Union provides signs exclaiming "Marijuana is Medicine" and demanding the reclassification of cannabis as a schedule I drug with no recognized medicinal value.

Don Duncan took a moment to speak with me for TV about some of American's for Safe Access's current projects and what is happening on a Federal Level. ASA is involved in 2 lawsuits against the Federal Government in an effort to reschedule cannabis from a Schedule 1 substance. More information can be found here, on the Americans for Safe Access website. Keep an eye on TV for full coverage. Read the official press release from Americans for Safe Access on their media site.

B-Real, Tommy Chong and Supernatural
Many artists joined activists, attorneys and patients in the March including Tommy Chong, Attorney Bruce Margolin and Daddy X of the Cottonmouth Kings. I had a moment to March with Daddy-X and expressed my gratitude for artists willing to stand with the patients on medical marijuana. Daddy-X knows the power of the voice of the people and hopes to encourage all of his fans to get involved in the political process.

Tommy Chong was well received by the crowd. I heard one fan exclaim, "Thanks for taking one for the team, Tommy!' just upon his arrival, a reference to Tommy's recent time served for selling bongs on the Internet. Tommy served 9 month in Federal Prison for Operation PipeDream, a campaign deployed over 2,000 law enforcement officers costing over $12,000,000. Read more here.

Criminal Defense Attorney Bruce Margolin
Attorney Bruce Margolin, a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney and Director of the Los Angeles Chapter of NORML was on hand to speak to the crowd about the importance of reforming corrosive cannabis prohibition laws. His em impassioned speech was both inspiring and educational, full of praise for everyone who participated for exercising their constitutional right to peaceably assemble. Bruce has represented several high profile clients including the infamous Timothy Leary for everything from marijuana to murder and has spearheaded efforts to regulate marijuana in California. Bruce continues work from his offices in Los Angeles.

The Hemps pose with the 420 Nurses
Henry Hemp and Mrs. Hemp conducted on the street interviews with attendees asking what inspired them to come out for SmokeOut for Safe Access. Some came to support their favorite artists, others represented business leaders and patients making their voices heard in the wake of fierce attacks from the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency in recent months. Many were concerned about their constitutional rights and brought signs demanding the government reschedule cannabis. The steps of Los Angeles City Hall became a sea of signs provided by Guerilla Union and creative pieces made and carried by a very determined crowd. Medical Marijuana is a recognized part of the culture in Los Angeles, confirmed by the diversity of those willing to take time on a work day to come out and stand up against a government refusing to accept cannabis as a medicine.

Comedienne Tere Joyce
Comedian Tere Joyce conducted a live interview with Russ Bellville of the NORML Daily Stash so NORML listeners were able to be a part of the march even if only vicariously. Check out the report on NORML Daily Stash Live show website.

At the end of the March, protestors lingered around a drum circle and networked with each other before dispersing without incident. Law enforcement officers were on hand, but very respectful of the crowd who assembled. As Tere pointed out in her NORML Daily Stash news report, the cops seemed to be OK with marijuana protestors considering the recent treatment of the Occupy movement evacuated just weeks before the event. The mood was definitely mellow. 

Full photo coverage can be found on Facebook here.