About 100 stout-hearted demonstrators took part in today's DNC Cannabis Pride parade, marching from Philadelphia's Marconi Park down Broad Street and concluding at the security gates outside Wells Fargo Arena, where most participants smoked marijuana in plain view of law enforcement.
With the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in town this week, the Philadelphia PD certainly has greater law enforcement concerns than a well-behaved group of pot-smokers who have already marched in far greater numbers this week, and the police gave the cannabis marchers a safe escort down the street toward the convention.
One of the marchers, Dana Beal, was a living embodiment of why this now-fairly benign act of protest was a revolutionary act in very recent memory. Beal was a Yippee (the name given to members of the Youth International Party) in the 1960s who organized some of the first "smoke-ins" in New York's Tompkins Square Park. Prior to the march, Beal talked to the crowd about how much progress has been made in his over 50 years of pro-marijuana advocacy, but he also angrily decried marijuana's continued status as a Schedule I narcotic.
Beal also leveled a dig at members of the Revolutionary Communist Party, who he accused of "ripping off our permit" when they held a protest at the same spot where the Cannabis Pride people had been legally permitted to demonstrate. "I know those guys," Beal said, "they just don't respect potheads!"
One speaker talked about how legally prescribed medicinal marijuana has helped dramatically reduce his daughter's seizures, and a wheelchair-bound man told Reason about how marijuana has helped with his anxiety and pain management after he broke his neck in a pool accident eight years ago.
Adam Eidinger, a Washington, D.C. marijuana activist and the founder of Capitol Hemp, told the crowd that "he's not excited as he probably should be" about the fact that a woman is set to make history tonight when Hillary Clinton accepts the nomination of a major political party for president.
"I'm not sure she's going to be so much help, to be honest," Eidinger said, "but that's why we're here." Eidinger celebrated the language included in the Democratic platform calling for states to serve as "laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana," but complained that the word "marijuana" has yet to be uttered by an on-stage speaker at the DNC.
— Philadelphia Police (@PhillyPolice) July 25, 2016
The march concluded at the gates of the DNC, where most of the demonstrators proudly and openly toked up on joints in plain view of law enforcement. One of the march's organizers thanked the Philadelphia police for supporting their right to protest and decried the "assholes" who breached the gates of the security perimeter last night, which he described as a deliberate attempt to mislead the media and make the police look bad.
People are still rotting in jail for marijuana-related offenses, and despite the Democratic Party's platform, there's plenty of reason to be skeptical of what a potential Hillary Clinton administration would do when it comes to marijuana legalization and prosecuting the war on drugs. But a large group of self-professed potheads blazing up in plain view of the police — and thanking those same police for being "cool" — is still quite a thing to behold.