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Pot advocates hope dispensaries don't go up in smoke

By Andrew Lopez
Published: Friday, March 02, 2012, at 09:07AM
Andrew Lopez

Protesters gathered at City Hall Thursday to march against a proposed ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles.



About 300 protesters gathered at City Hall Thursday to voice their disapproval of the possibility of L.A. City Council banning medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles.

Members of Americans for Safe Access partnered with Guerilla Union to put together the march from City Hall to the Federal building, in conjunction with the Cypress Hill Smokeout Festival taking place this Saturday in San Bernardino.

Among the marchers were B-Real of the aforementioned Cypress Hill, Tommy Chong and members of Kottonmouth Kings.

B-Real told the crowd that the event was aimed to help educate the public who might not be aware of what is at stake if dispensaries are banned in L.A.

“Your rights are being taken away from you slowly. We fought for years to get this piece of legislation here in California,” B-Real said. “When that law goes away, there’s going to be a lot of marijuana medical users pissed off because they can’t go to their collective.”

The protest ended at the Federal building to denounce the Federal government’s attempts to shut local dispensaries down, even though it’s technically legal to use medical marijuana in the state of California with a medical card.

Smoking and selling of marijuana, medical or not, is still illegal under Federal law.

“They are at war with people here in Los Angeles who legally use medical marijuana,” director of Americans For Safe Access Don Duncan said.

Duncan called on protesters to join him at the Federal Building every time a collective is shut down in the city.

“If this many people were out in the street near this Federal Building saying ‘hell no, you’re not gonna do that,’ they would have to stop,” he said.

But it wasn't all politics and protest; several of the marchers giddily cheered and laughed as Chong sang a few bars of a song, and talked a bit about the now infamous, "Up In Smoke."

"That's where my money goes, in my lungs, and sometimes up my nose," Chong joked with the crowd.

Some protesters believe opposition who view the “medicinal” tag narrowly misconstrues the issue.

“I use it for depression,” Mitchell Spencer said. “You would think that I smoke just (because), but there’s actually a lot of different reasons.”

Despite one arrest for publicly smoking marijuana, the event was a success for the movement, Carla Garcia, organizer and member of Guerilla Union said.

“There’s always going to be negative perceptions to marijuana until the people who use it, the people that voted it in, we take responsibility for what it is we like to do and act responsible with it,” she said.

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