4/20 is going to start early in Washington, D.C. this year. A marijuana activist group is taking up Bill Maher's call to action by staging a large-scale cannabis protest this spring in the nation's capital.
On Feb. 12, Maher wrapped up an episode of Real Time by calling on pro-marijuana Americans to keep up the fight for legalization or else the country will backslide into prohibition. To punctuate his statement, he smoked a joint on live TV.
Now the activist group D.C. Cannabis Campaign (DCCC) - the group behind the district's successful cannabis ballot initiative in 2014 - is taking up the call. They want you to join them in front of the White House Apr. 2 at 4:20 pm (EST) for the #Reschedule420 event.
The protestors will call on President Barack Obama to act on his own admission that the War on Drugs and mass incarceration are failed policies. They want him to reschedule marijuana using executive power and to pardon Americans currently in prison for marijuana offences.
The date of the protest - 18 days before the unofficial cannabis holiday 4/20 - wasn't a mistake. They rescheduled 4/20 to emphasize their call to action, and to criticize the president: "Due to popular demand, we're rescheduling 4/20 this year to 4/2 because Obama's been a BIG ZER0 on cannabis reform," the DCCC explained on their website.
Right now, cannabis is a Schedule I drug in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which means the federal government considers cannabis as dangerous as heroin. That scheduling severely restricts researching marijuana to fully understand its medical properties and health effects. Rescheduling cannabis would be a major step toward legalization. That's why the DCCC is staging the protest.
A National Marijuana Mobilization
"We're calling on the whole country to come," #Reschedule420 organizer Adam Eidinger told U.S. News. "This is a national mobilization. Some of us may end up in jail, and that's fine. It's actually necessary at this point."
The event is BYOC - bring your own cannabis. Attendees are encouraged to exercise civil disobedience by smoking, vaping, eating or enjoying their cannabis however they want publicly.
The DCCC is pushing for immediate reform because they feel that Obama is still the country's best hope for change.
"We have to take action now, that's the idea. If it's not going to happen under Obama, it's sure as hell not going to happen with Hillary [Clinton]."
That's a scathing rebuke for the former secretary of state considering that Obama recently passed the buck on marijuana reform to Congress. Clinton has vowed to move marijuana from a Schedule I to Schedule II if she becomes president, but many activists argue that's not enough. Meanwhile, her rival Bernie Sanders has pledged to end federal prohibition, but his chances of winning the Democratic nomination are fading.
If you're not feeling fired up about the issue yet, check out the video of Maher lighting up for inspiration. We've cued up the video to that moment, but the segment is worth watching in its entirety: