The DCMJ Protest – Part 1

I had the most amazing night protesting with DCMJ the other night and I’ve been just dying to tell you all about it!

Now, I don’t know if I’m a member of DCMJ or not. The very idea of what membership meant and required was bandied about in a series of public meetings earlier this year and unfortunately, I could only participate in the first one & haven’t seen any announcements. So I’m not sure that anyone, outside of Adam Eidinger and Nikolas Schiller, are technically members, along with anyone that worked on the Initiative 71 campaign (do ballot initiatives campaign, or only candidates? Remind me to ask Nik next time I see him).

But I show up to every meeting I can, and I post their announcements here and through Capital Canna News on Facebook, because I have great respect for all the folks that worked so hard to make cannabis legalization in the District via Initiative 71 happen. That’s the whole reason I moved back to the city- it sure ain’t because I wanted a longer commute- and frankly, it’s an honor to help this organization further our cause. I wasn’t here to push or even vote for i71, but there’s plenty of work still to be done. Our proximity to the heads of state gives us an unrivaled opportunity to remind the nation’s leadership that federal cannabis reform won’t wait, which to me, is the same as saying we have a responsibility to do so. There are veterans, children, American citizens who CAN NOT WAIT for you to get your oversized, misshapen heads out of Big Pharma and Big Beer’s assholes. I can’t emphasize that enough. The time to act, you corpulescent, incestuous blob of oozing scumbaggery that is our United States Congress, is YESTERDAY. But right motherfucking now will have to do.

Most of the protests I’ve been notified of since I joined their mailing list have been daytime or late afternoon on weekdays near the White House, so it’s been too great an obstacle for me to get to them after I get off work at the height of rush hour. My bosses have been exceedingly understanding about this whole cannabis activism/blog thing we’ve got started here, but leaving work early to risk getting locked up and missing work the next day is, ehh, frowned upon. I’ve got to do that on my own time until blogging about getting stoned turns into money. A mere inevitability, we can be certain.

The DEA’s decision not to reschedule cannabis- at all- coincided with near hundred degree temperatures here in the nation’s Capital. Having recently witnessed fellow protesters collapse under heat exhaustion weeks earlier in Philadelphia at the Democratic National Convention left the DCMJ leadership wary. The protest was scheduled to begin later in the evening for the safety of activists involved, but the late hour also gave the Gentleman his first chance to get in on the action personally.

I found parking at McPherson Square and walked to the White House with the aid of Google Maps to navigate the quickest pedestrian route. Paying the streets little mind, I arrived almost an hour late. It was twilight, the day’s heat a quickly dying memory, and the protest was well under way.

My pace slowed to take in the scene of protesters, tourists, and law enforcement. My heart sped up as I tried not to catch the eye of any police while observing them as much as I was comfortable with. On reflection, they seemed fairly relaxed, though they stood at a disciplined readiness, vaguely interested, even.

Cops love weed, too, folks. But I digress (that’s code for ‘taking a smoke break’ here at GTHQ).

A moment of apprehension caught tight in my chest as I approached the invisible line separating me from casual observer to active participant. Just a moment. What if I get put on some kind of watchlist or something? The answer was another question – which side of the line are you on? – and I strode forward purposefully, my step quickening towards my fellow protesters.

Jailhouse Rock was playing. I laughed to myself, it was such a perfect song for the occasion. Adam Eidinger stood in the center with a wagon of speakers and other audio equipment, prepared to speak and emcee the Tone-Deaf Karaoke that was his answer to the administration’s tone-deafness on cannabis reform. Hey, the dude loves puns, don’t look at me. Behind him, half a dozen volunteers held banners up promoting the cause, and I recall the one stating 22 veterans commit suicide every day. I found this Washington Post article that tries to be skeptical of that statistic but really just confirms it in an official source. To me, at least, the Post is what comes to mind when I think of a newspaper. It’s what I grew up with.  And for the record, I don’t see any difference between whether the veterans are fresh off a tour or have been in civilian life for sixty years.  I don’t recall a time limit on our nation’s promise to “care for those who have borne the battle.”  Do you?

The protesters were assembled in clusters of small groups, just a few people in each, and denser at the center. I stood off a bit to the left, one of the few people by themselves, but it wasn’t awkward at all because everyone was watching Adam’s show. He called the crowd in closer to coalesce the disparate packs of the disaffected into comrades and spoke.

Eidinger talked briefly about the lives lost and lives ruined by America’s War on Cannabis. Then he yielded the mike to a striking young brunette that sang “I Love this Land” in key but in a silly, smarmy game show host kinda voice. I began to notice some familiar faces in the crowd and shuffled my way over to say hello while a young guy took over to scream out “Fight For Your Right” by the one and only Beastie Boys. More folks lined up to make sure that all within earshot experienced just a fraction of the discomfort we feel as citizens who could have everything we’ve worked for, everyone we’ve loved, taken from us because we refuse to swallow the Big Pill.

In another life, your Gentleman was a frontman for a promising band, and I’m not keen on singing badly. So I got up and rapped Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” instead. When I told him my selection, Adam laughed in amused resignation and gave me the microphone. I was a bundle of nerves- it’s been a long time since I’ve performed and I knew that I didn’t know the song well enough to do a good job. That was the whole point, I told myself, and once we got my phone case off so the plug would fit in the port, we got held up while the song loaded. I tried to say something inspirational to those assembled that I had thought of on my way there, but I was too nervous, and hadn’t yet got the words right.

For the record, what I was trying to say was: it’s easy to find a reason not to do the right thing. To put it off til tomorrow. To let someone else do it. But if we want to do good, to change the world, to be our best selves, then we must look beyond the easy reasons not to.

There are a few lyrics in the song that caught me off-guard. I had forgot how much Marshall Mathers dislikes women and there were some scattered references to get “hos” off of him throughout that I felt awkward singing. I mentally replaced “hos” with “DEA,” whom I would very much like to keep off of me, but it was still awkward. Also the line, “make me king of this New World Order,” a sentiment I fully agree with, but sounds presumptuous to demand out loud. What can I say? Writing requires an ego.

And I missed singing like, half of it, but overall, it went smashingly. I also screamed that they needed to “Fix this Shit!” at the top of my lungs because I forgot there were children present among the tourists and proving Adam’s hesitation at giving me the mike to be an accurate, savvy assessment. Hindsight, baby!

I’m pretty sure for definite I’m on some government list now, haha. Anyhoo, see you in Part 2!