Justice

These Cannabis Activists Want To Get Arrested In Front Of The White House

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In response to the Obama administration’s unwillingness to take action on reforming marijuana laws, the D.C. Cannabis Campaign (DCMJ) is planning to light up outside the White House on April 2.

The event, Reschedule 420, will feature mass consumption of cannabis, which remains illegal on federal land. (Marijuana consumption did recently become legal on private property in Washington, D.C., however.)

DCMJ chair Adam Eidinger tells ThinkProgress that while he doesn’t expect arrests, he welcomes them.

“It’s time for marijuana users to voluntarily get arrested,” he says. “We relish a confrontation. We want a mass arrest, but my guess is they won’t arrest a soul.”

“We’re not taking no for an answer from Obama now,” Eidinger says. “He has a good reputation [on the issue] and doesn’t deserve it. There were more medical marijuana raids his first term than Bush. Why so passive-aggressive, Mr. President?… We’ve waited eight years, and still no reform on the federal level.”

Eidinger says he wants cannabis rescheduled from Schedule I — a classification reserved for dangerous drugs with no medical use that also includes heroin and bath salts — into Schedule III, or descheduled altogether. Last year, the Obama administration eased some restrictions on cannabis research, but THC’s status as a Schedule I controlled substance continues to make it difficult for researchers to fully explore its medicinal capabilities.

Eric Holder, U.S. attorney general during Obama’s first term, recently came out in favor of reclassifying cannabis, going as far as to say it’s time for federal lawmakers to talk about decriminalizing marijuana altogether. But Loretta Lynch, Holder’s successor as attorney general, is less open to reform. For instance, during her confirmation hearing last year, Lynch said, “I can tell you that not only do I not support legalization of marijuana, it is not the position of the Department of Justice currently to support the legalization nor would it be the position should I become confirmed as attorney general.”

Eidinger worries that if cannabis were reclassified as a Scheduled II controlled substance, that would allow the pharmaceutical industry to monopolize the market for medical marijuana treatments.

“Marijuana should be regulated, but treated like an herbal supplement,” Eidinger says, adding that he believes those under 21 should have to get a doctor’s recommendation to obtain cannabis.

Last April 20, DCMJ activists smoked joints on the National Mall. Nobody was arrested. Though the smoking aspect of that event wasn’t publicized in advance, Eidinger says he expects federal law enforcement authorities to react in much the same way this April 2.

“It would not be the first time the White House has ignored the public use of marijuana,” Eidinger says, adding that he’ll cancel the April 2 rally if Obama agrees to personally meet with DCMJ to talk about reforming federal marijuana laws.

Obama hasn’t slammed the door on rescheduling cannabis — for instance, in an interview last year, he said, “I think carefully prescribed medical use of marijuana may in fact be appropriate and we should follow the science as opposed to ideology on this issue” — but he’s also said he wants Congress to take initiative on the issue. That stance doesn’t sit well with activists like Eidinger who argue that the executive branch and Drug Enforcement Agency have the capability to reschedule controlled substances without congressional input.

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