LOS ANGELES — Despite multiple last minute changes at the whim of the LAPD and the City of Los Angeles, the 16th annual Global Cannabis March took place on Saturday May 3rd in solidarity with hundreds of cities around the world.
Three days prior to the event, the permit holder was informed that construction on the Crenshaw Metro line required a shortening of the parade route. Social networks and phone chains buzzed as the last minute change of plans was communicated to attendees. Considering the hot weather predicted , no one minded learning they would be walking a shorter distance, but not everyone could be informed of the change before the day of the event.
The announcement that police would not close the street was delivered after people had traveled from Riverside, San Bernardino, Kern, San Diego, and Ventura counties to assemble in Los Angeles. No one was inclined to move the date of a global hemp revolution event already in progress, so the crowd decided take the sidewalk along the parade route.
After a quick reminder for cars to obey all traffic signals and pedestrian marchers to leave passing room on the sidewalk, the march took off towards Leimert Park. Cars covered with sparkly green leaves and messages celebrating the benefits of hemp honked their horns as nearly one hundred people marched on foot.
“Change Bad Laws: Get on a Jury” declared a banner running the full length of one red sports car. Jury nullification refers to your Constitutional right to vote “not guilty” on immoral or unjust laws (such as putting human beings in prison for growing or possessing a plant) if you sit on a jury.
“If nature is illegal, then freedom does not exist” observed a banner on a pick-up truck. Other signs on the truck mentioned the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative 2016 (or “Jack Herer” initiative), which is the only California initiative to truly repeal prohibition, fully legalize hemp for all uses, and free the pot prisoners.
Volunteers from The HumanSolution, NORML Women’s Alliance, and Orange County NORML formed a contingent to honor cannabis prisoners of war (POWs) serving time behind bars for a plant. As the march traveled along Crenshaw Boulevard, 3-foot tall signs bearing the pictures of marijuana POWs caught the attention of passerby and traffic.
An 8-foot wide banner spanning the sidewalk pleaded “A Marijuana Offense Should Not Equal a Life Sentence. Set them Free!” Another sign listed the names of 22 people serving life sentences for marijuana.
Father of three Jimmy Romans was sentenced in February 2013 to life in prison for conspiracy to distribute marijuana. http://www.facebook.com/jimmyromanslifeforpot
In 1994, Paul Free was convicted of the crime committed by a now-deceased DEA agent. He has served 19 years of his life sentence. Unless he gets a pardon or commuted sentence from the President he will die in prison. http://www.facebook.com/FreePaulFree/
Champion race car driver and father of two Randy Lanier has been incarcerated since 1987. After he refused to testify against his codefendants, he was charged with being the principal administrator of a “continual criminal enterprise,” which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of life without parole. http://www.randylanier.com
Vietnam veteran Larry Duke has served 24 years of his life sentence for marijuana. http://www.lifeforpot.com/
Towing company co-owner Craig Cesal has been incarcerated since 2002 for his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to transport marijuana. http://www.facebook.com/FreeCraigCesal/
John Knock and Claude Duboc are serving life in prison after being implicated by a confidential informant (CI) in 1994. http://www.johnknock.com/
Michael Pelletier, confined to a wheelchair since childhood, was sentenced to life without parole in 2008. http://www.lifeforpot.com/
Also represented in Saturday’s Global Cannabis March were prisoners who were convicted in federal court despite complying with California state medical marijuana laws. Aaron Sandusky, Luke Scarmazzo, Roger Christie, and Eddy Lepp were among the federal prisoners depicted on signs.
Hemptivist Dr. Mesmer carried a “Phytoremediate Fukushima” sign in the march. Phytoremediation is the process of using plants to clean a toxic environment. Large scale hemp planting has the potential to reduce air pollution and scrub toxic substances from the soil.
A single LAPD squad car escorted the march down Crenshaw. The officers did not cite anyone for pedestrian violations, despite photographers stepping into the road to take pictures. The decorated vehicles accompanying the parade were permitted to travel below the legal minimum speed.
This year’s cannabis march was dedicated in loving memory of Richard Davis of the USA Hemp Museum (who passed away this year) and Sister Somaya Kambui. Both brave cannabis pioneers produced the early Los Angeles global marijuana marches and contributed to the event until their passing. Sister Somayah would open the rallies with her battle cry, “Don’t Be Scared,” and she always carried a hemp plant with her in the parade.
Medical marijuana pioneer Richard Eastman greeted the march at Leimert Park. He returned from Washington, D.C. to attend the march, but did not receive notice of the last minute formation change.
Speeches in the park celebrated California’s status as the first state in the nation to allow medical marijuana. One person wondered, “given the level of air pollution experienced in Los Angeles, could [we] be an extreme beneficiary of large scale hemp planting to remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere?”
“Hemp is an awesome, non toxic technology that we should be using on a grand scale. It is imperative that we implement the hemp solution now, to Fukushima, fracking, GMOs, illnesses that cannabis cures, and industrial uses.” You can make over 50,000 items from hemp, including bio-fuels, building materials, plastics, papers, foods, oils, dyes, fibers, buds (all of which can be used as 4D & 3D printing filaments/inks). Hemp has “so many life-improving and -saving capabilities…no wonder marijuana is illegal.”
Another hempster noted, “It is way past time for We, the People to take back our relationship with Mother Nature.
The government has created so many more problems with their drug war policy.”
The Human Solution founder Joe Grumbine, a veteran of a four year court battle for operating a Long Beach dispensary, spoke about the need to channel energy into contacting our elected representatives. “How many of you know the name of your representative?” he challenged the crowd.
We, the People vote in the Congress that has the power to make laws. We all know that the majority of the public disagrees with the Drug War, so why do we allow it to continue on? It is time to make our law enforcement system representative of the will of the people. It’s time to end Prohibition.
See the full article with photos at: http://www.unitedstatesvmarijuana.com/dispatches-from-the-field/gcm2014