For the first time since Occupy L.A. rolled out of town, it was smoke instead of smog that permeated the air on Thursday outside Los Angeles City Hall.
More than 100 medical marijuana enthusiasts gathered on the steps outside Los Angeles City Hall on Thursday afternoon for a peaceful protest rallying against the city’s ongoing attempts to ban or limit medical marijuana dispensaries. The “SmokeOut for Safe Access Rally,” featuring Cypress Hill’s B-Real, Tommy Chong and the band Kottonmouth Kings, drew a respectable crowd ready to march in support of medical pot. And let’s not forget their mission to snag some easy promotion for the Cypress Hill SmokeOut Festival happening Saturday at the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino. The protest was a joint effort (rim shot, please!) between festival organizers, Americans for Safe Access and the Medicine & Music Project.
The event began at 4 p.m. on the west steps of City Hall, where Cypress Hill rapper B-Real, Americans for Safe Access California Director Don Duncan, rapper MC Supernatural and comedian-activist Tommy Chong came to deliver brief speeches to protesters.
“Nothing better than rolling up a fat one, sittin’ on the courthouse steps, watch me rap one… yo I can handle this they’re so scandalous, tryin’ to ban medical marijuana in Los Angeles,” rapped MC Supernatural.
Police presence was relatively light at the event, which remained peaceful as B-Real and Duncan took turns giving short speeches into a megaphone on the steps above the protesters, who raised homemade banners emblazoned with slogans informing the crowd that “Marijuana Is Medicine.”
On Wednesday, a state appeals court in Santa Ana found that the city of Lake Forest could not ban medical marijuana facilities through zoning ordinances, as that contradicts state Proposition 215, which makes such dispensaries legal.
Andrew Flores, 28, of Alhambra heard about the protest from a friend and hoped to lend his support, as well as get the chance to see B-Real address the crowd a few days ahead of Smoke Out.
“It’s always great to see that guy on the mike no matter where it is,” said Flores. “But I’m just really excited to see people coming out and showing support for this movement, which definitely affects me since I have family members that actually do depend on medical marijuana to treat glaucoma and other painful illnesses.”
The rally was followed by a protest march that began, appropriately, at 4:20 p.m. (The number 420 is a kind of code word for pot by marijuana advocates) Participants draped in green ganja-inspired outfits carried banners and flags and marched a few blocks east from the City Hall steps to the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building for an hour-long protest that included a brief speech from Chong. B-Real, whose annual SmokeOut festival is the only one of its kind that allows medical marijuana patients the ability to light up in a specified treatment area of the festival grounds, ended things by calling for even more support from the local community of cannabis users.
“How many people are here today? More medical marijuana patients and advocates should be here. But you showed up and that goes to show your dedication. From here, you go and educate everybody else.”
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