Marijuana Activists Push Pot at DNC, March With 51-Foot Joints

Convention-goers and Philadelphia residents witnessed two 51-foot inflatable joints being marched up Broad Street yesterday in celebration of the Democratic National Committee's progressive platform on marijuana.

The Philadelphia branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and DCMJ, the outfit that helped legalize marijuana in Washington., D.C., organized a group of about two dozen members to carry the blow-up joints about 3.5 miles from Philadelphia City Hall to the Wells Fargo Center, where the convention is being held.

For the first time in the Democratic Party's history, marijuana is a central issue, and pro-legalization groups couldn't be more thrilled by the attention. Along with some members of Congress, these activists have been fighting for marijuana reform in hopes that federal laws will soon reflect those of states that have legalized cannabis use.

One joint read "Legalize" and "Hillary, Deschedule Cannabis Now," alluding to the group's belief that marijuana shouldn't be rescheduled, but rather descheduled altogether. Another read "End the Racist Drug War." 

The other joint said, "Berned by the DNC," reportedly making reference to the leaked e-mails indicating that high-ranking members of the DNC had favored Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Sanders, who became an advocate for marijuana reform during his campaign, is a big reason the issue made it onto the DNC platform at all: He waited to endorse Clinton until certain issues from his campaign, such as free college tuition, climate change and marijuana reform, were written into the party's platform draft.

The Democratic Party platform's section on marijuana currently reads: 
“We believe that the states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana, and those states that want to decriminalize marijuana should be able to do so. We support policies that will allow more research to be done on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty. And we recognize our current marijuana laws have had an unacceptable disparate impact, with arrest rates for marijuana possession among African-Americans far outstripping arrest rates among whites despite similar usage rates.”
While many marijuana advocates see this as a huge step in the right direction, Clinton has yet to voice support for legalization. Instead, she has called for more research on cannabis.

The Democratic Party will vote on the platform draft Wednesday night; cannabis activists will be busy over the next day pushing to make sure the section on marijuana is not cut.

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Kate McKee Simmons interned at the National Catholic Reporter, was a reporter for the New York Post, and spent a brief stint in Israel learning international reporting before writing for Westword.