A White House 4:20 for marijuana legalization protest sounds like a pipe dream out of a Cheech and Chong or Harold and Kumar movie. A destination that a pair of hazed-out friends would spend a 90-minute stoner comedy taking a road trip to.
Perhaps because of the cinematic symbolism it conjures up, dozens of marijuana legalization advocates smoked weed openly in front of the White House at 4:20 p.m. on Saturday. According to ABC News, no arrests were made despite the fact that both local police and members of the Secret Service were present. The news channel reported that various protesters may have been ticketed. D.C. police later confirmed that two tickets were given out.
Another disagreement occurred between local authorities and protesters when an oversized 51-foot joint balloon was asked to be deflated. Attendees who later tried to blow it back to life at White House 4:20 were escorted off the premises. Other than that, it appears that the manifestation was entirely peaceful.
Of course, the defiant tokers had more in mind just getting high in front of the White House. The 4:20 smoke-out was a tool to push President Barack Obama to reduce marijuana from a Schedule 1 substance — the same category as hard drugs like heroin. Marijuana.com delivered details of the cause preceding the event.
“Exposing naked ignorance, the DCMJ plan on doing a little protesting to highlight the world-class disaster that goes by the name of Schedule 1 cannabis… Provided the good ol’ boys in the National Park Police don’t get too overzealous, a mass exercise in civil disobedience will begin at 4:20 PM promptly.”
Despite any striking odor that may have wafted through the front windows, President Barack Obama was not on the White House grounds when 4:20 struck. He instead spent the day at the golf course, reported ABC.
Even if Obama had been home, it’s unlikely that the White House march would have inspired him to take action. While Barack could technically go through a difficult bureaucratic process in order to knock marijuana down a schedule, it would require a concentrated effort — one he’s already said isn’t on his agenda. According to John Hudak of the Brooking Institute, Congress has a much clearer path to this goal: They simply need to pass a law that the president must sign. Hudak explains the process at 6:10 in the video below.
Smoking marijuana in front of the White House is great for a photo-op, but it doesn’t quite get to the heart of the many reasons keeping marijuana a Schedule 1 drug. Illegal drugs are classified by the U.S. government according to their perceived medical use and the probability for them to be abused, wrote Vox in a drug scheduling explainer. Cocaine, for instance, is a Schedule 2 drug, even though few would say it is safer than weed. In turn, marijuana remains illegal partially because of limited access to it for research purposes — keeping it in Schedule 1 limbo.
“It may be helpful to think of the scheduling system as made up of two distinct groups: nonmedical and medical. The nonmedical group comprises the Schedule 1 drugs, which are considered to have no medical value and high potential for abuse. The medical group comprises the Schedule 2 to 5 drugs, which have some medical value and are numerically ranked based on abuse potential (from high to low).”
Would you risk a 4:20 White House smoke-out in favor of marijuana legalization?
[Image via Alex Wong/Getty Images]