Cypress Hill, Kottonmouth Kings Rally for Medical Marijuana
The SmokeOut for Safe Access protest is in response to the DEA proposed ban of local dispensaries in LA.
Cypress Hill, Tommy Chong, Kottonmouth Kings and about 200 other medical marijuana supporters rallied together in downtown Los Angeles Thursday for the “Cypress Hill SmokeOut for Safe Access,” a protest march of the Drug Enforcement Administration's closures and proposed ban of local dispensaries.
Walking from City Hall to the Federal Building a few blocks away, participants dressed in street clothes and outlandish pot-themed costumes moved peacefully with signs that incited honks by passing cars. The event was organized by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the Medicine & Music Project and the Cypress Hill SmokeOut Festival, which takes place this Saturday in San Bernardino, CA. Fittingly the march began at 4:20 p.m. but, with only a few exceptions, nary a joint nor bowl was smoked.
"What sparked this was the fact that the feds decided to start attacking the collectives in California and a lot of us feel uneasy about that because it attacks our rights," said B-Real of Cypress Hill, during the march. "For a lot of people who are medical marijuana patients and buy their medicine from these dispensaries, it is a safe haven as opposed to going to some backdoor place."
"Marijuana has always been a big part of music," added rapper MC Supernatural who started the march with a freestyle that bullet-pointed the crowd's sentiments including marijuana reclassification and ending federal interference. "All of the great musicians have used medical marijuana at one point or another. Whether it's openly or behind closed doors, we do it and I don't really see the big deal in that."
Daddy X of Kottonmouth Kings expressed anger.
"If we vote for a legalization and it gets passed and the federal government overturns the vote, that's total bullshit," said Daddy X. "Fundamentally, I don't know how you can outlaw a plant… No one's going to stop the plant from growing."
Between chants of, "DEA, go away!," standing before the DEA building on West Temple Street, the all-star supporters spoke out to the crowd though megaphones.
"I never thought I'd be here in front of the federal building, I always thought I'd be inside locked up for something," joked B-Real, thanking Tommy Chong for Cypress Hill's inspiration to discuss and promote marijuana legalization. "Your rights are being taken away from you slowly, just by this one action."
Don Duncan from ASA, criminal defense attorney Bruce Margolin, and Chang Weisberg, from the concert promotion company Guerilla Union, also all spoke. Keeping it brief, amidst the crowd's cheers, Chong recited select lines from the Cheech and Chong classic, "Up in Smoke," and then introduced a new song of his called, "Get it Legal," that started, "It's a little green flower that gives us the power to overcome sickness and despair."
Afterwards, many of the protesters stuck around chatting amongst themselves and with their musical pot icons, shaking hands and getting autographs. Some started a drum circle. Meanwhile police officers watched on from a distance.
"This has been historic," said a smiling Weisberg, who has been the promoter of the Cypress Hill SmokeOut since it started in 1998. "We're on federal property. They said we couldn't even be on this property but the federal guys were cool with it because the crowd was acting right…Medical marijuana is the gateway to responsible 21-and-over use. And it's been the spirit of what the Cypress Hill SmokeOut has always been about."
Weisberg said about 20,000 people are expected to attend the Cypress Hill SmokeOut this weekend, which is the only festival in California that allows patients to bring medical marijuana and smoke it on the premises. The event’s lineup includes Sublime with Rome, Korn, Cypress Hill, Thievery Corporation, and Wiz Khalifa, among others.