7/4/98 Washington, DC. - Some 4000 - 5000 people from all across the country gathered in Lafayette park, as Walther Productions and the Fourth of July Hemp Coalition Presented the 29th Annual Fourth of July Hemp Rally, March & Concert to End Marijuana Prohibition.
The peaceful Independence Day celebration/demonstration began at noon with a rally in Lafayette Park (on the north side of the White House) The smoking of pot at will began around 11am. Police presence was seen, but they basically stayed around the perimeter. No arrests were made during the protest. It was followed by a march to the Mall (23rd and Constitution Avenue NW) for a free, seven- hour concert.The concert itself attracted an estimated 20,000 plus. Police reported 52 arrests in the concert area , mostly on drug related charges This years concert was dedicated to the efforts and memory of the late DC ACT-UP founder/AIDS Activist, Steve Michael.
John Pylka, director of the Fourth of July Hemp Coalition, Dana Beal, known as father of marijuana movement and other national speakers and activists, like Julian Heicklen, the "pot smoking Professor" lead the rally. I got to meet both Dana Beal and John Pylka. The concert area, in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, featured tables and booths of cannabis policy reform-related information and action, as well as hemp merchants and related vendors. The day ended with the annual fireworks display, highly visible from many areas of the Mall grounds.
The goal of this annual event is to commonly demonstrate the belief in a
national reform of Cannabis policy by exercising our constitutional rights:
the right to petition our government for redress of grievances, the right to
peaceful assembly, the right of free speech, and the right to a free press.
According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law (NORML),
Cannabis prohibition costs taxpayers $7.2 Billion annually. There are many health, education, law enforcement, political and legal officials who agree with these findings and are currently working to help change the present cannabis-related policy. They, too, have found that the classification of this plant as a Schedule I Controlled Substance was shortsighted and misguided.
>The Fourth of July Hemp Coalition (FJHC) is a 501 (a) nonprofit organization
>registered in the District of Columbia. In addition to educating, networking,
>and endorsing local policy reform groups and activities, the FJHC's primary
>purpose is to organize and fund the annual Fourth of July Hemp Rally, March &
>Concert in Washington, DC. For more information call (202) 887-5770.
Walther Productions web site.