4/20 might be a celebratory time for most cannabis users across the nation, but marijuana advocates are not losing sight of the uphill battle. After this weekend's post-holiday festivities settle down, dozens of marijuana activists, including a number of military veterans, will head to the steps of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to spark up joints.
The event, “Monday @ High Noon”, will take place on April 24, and is meant to call attention to the harsh federal stance that has hindered the cannabis industry from blossoming. Fliers for the protest have been circulating around the area, reading “Mass Civil Disobedience @ 4:20p — East Side of the US Capitol.”
Although marijuana possession is technically legal in D.C., the U.S. Capitol is considered federal property, meaning that the protestors could face up to a year in jail for sparking up there. But, the advocates and vets taking part in this demonstration know—and even welcome— the high risk that they are taking by lighting up right on the steps of Capitol Hill.
The event will mark the first time that activists openly light up on federal land in D.C. Using the U.S. Capitol dome as the backdrop of the protest, these cannabis advocates are willingly enticing the federal authorities to act. The activists are aiming to convince Congress to remove marijuana from its strict Schedule 1 substance classification.
According to Adam Eidinger, one of the demonstrators and co-founder of the advocacy group DCMJ, his primary goal is to push Congress to fully enact D.C.’s voter-approved ballot measure from 2014. The bill called for the creation of a full-fledged recreational marijuana system, but House Republicans tarnished the initiative, leaving cannabis legal to possess but illegal to buy or sell.
A spokeswoman from the United States Capitol Police has reiterated that “it is illegal to smoke marijuana on Federal property,” but federal law enforcement hasn’t revealed if they plan to prosecute the incoming protestors or not. If they do, it means that a handful of veterans will be hauled off to jail among the other present activists, a controversial move that would only stand to strengthen this budding cannabis movement.