Activists who think President Barack Obama has been "a big zero" on marijuana reform plan, raised a huge, inflatable marijuana joint near the White House on Saturday.
At 4:20 p.m. Saturday, there was a "mass-consumption of cannabis," which included smoking, vaping and eating edibles. Activists smoked marijuana outside the White House to send their message that the drug shouldn't be considered dangerous.
Carrying small amounts of marijuana is legal for anyone 21 or older in Washington, D.C., though police can arrest anyone caught smoking it in public. The event's organizer, DCMJ, is anticipating some people may be arrested.
"We will not be seeking any type of permit from the National Park Police because it is our constitutional right to peacefully gather and demand Obama stop being hypocrite," DCMJ writes on its website. "He smoked cannabis and became the president of the United States, and while he might think cannabis is a bad habit, does he seriously think it’s on par with heroin, nicotine, or alcohol?"
Four states and the District have legalized marijuana for recreational use, while other states have decriminalized marijuana, but using the drug remains an offense under federal law.
Organizer Adam Eidinger said jurisdictions having varying laws isn’t fair, and wants federal action.
"For a vast majority of people, nothing is changing," he said.
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Marijuana events are typically recognized on April 20, known as 4/20, but DCMJ moved the event up to April 2 – hence its name, #Reschedule420.
The centerpiece of this protest is the 51-foot inflatable joint that DCMJ invited people to help carry to the north side of the White House.
Eidinger told the Washington Post there will be “dozens, if not hundreds, engaged in civil disobedience” of smoking pot Saturday.
The U.S. Secret Service said in a statement that its law enforcement partners will respect the protesters' First Amendment rights.
"The Secret Service has coordinated closely with the United States Park Police and the Metropolitan Police Department, concerning any potential violations of law that may occur on the roads and in the park lands surrounding the White House Complex," the statement said. "We respectfully encourage peaceable assembly within the confines of the law."
Eidinger and the DCMJ hope cannabis becomes a campaign issue. Eidinger said the progressive wing of the Democratic party needs to take marijuana reform seriously.
"This is a challenge to the frontrunners," the DCMJ, the marijuana advocacy group spearheading the protest, wrote in the Facebook event page. "Will Donald Trump overturn DC's legalization? Has Hillary evolved long enough on the issue of cannabis to support legalization? Will Bernie Sanders taken a national legalization approach instead of a state by state approach?"
The protest was peaceful and nonviolent.