On December 5, 1933, the 18th amendment was repealed, ending the disastrous prohibition of alcohol. Today we live through an even more dangerous, fear-driven prohibition that is foundationally built upon the racist drug war, and disregards the needs of medical patients. In order to bring marijuana prohibition to an end, activists must apply as much pressure as possible through lobbying, direct action, civil disobedience, etc.
On Friday, December 5, 2014, precisely 81 years after the alcohol prohibition act was repealed, I traveled to Delaware to participate in the “Repeal Day Rally.” Delaware’s marijuana prohibition laws are as conservative as New Jersey’s. In 2010 Delaware legalized marijuana for medical purposes, but the first dispensary doesn’t expect to open until next year. The rally was organized by Delaware NORML and aimed to “educate the public” about how marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol, according to Cynthia Ferguson, executive director of the organization. She was reported in the “News Journal” (delawareonline.com) as stating: “The stuff is no different than alcohol. You drink alcohol to relax. You smoke a joint to relax.”
Nearly 50 persons gathered in Wilmington, Delaware, at Spencer Plaza for the rally at 4:20 P.M. After several speeches were conducted, we marched up King Street past the Carvel state office building. Carrying my “Legalize Marijuana” sign, I represented New Jersey marijuana activists along with Cindy Ruggiero, who drove with me to the demonstration. I also marched with one person dressed from head-to-toe in an Uncle Sam outfit, carrying a cardboard marijuana walking stick. I spoke and walked with Philadelphia marijuana activist Richard Dyott, famously known for wearing his green and white tall-hat with marijuana plant designs, who carried a sign that read “Cannabis Oil Cures Cancer.” As we received honks of approval from cars passing by, we chanted the slogans “End the Lies, Legalize!” “No more drug war” and “I’m a cannabis consumer. Not a criminal.”
A video of the march was posted on the website of “News Journal,” in which I was filmed with others marching into the courtyard across from the Louis L. Redding City/County Building on North French Street. In the courtyard concluding speeches were made by various speakers. University of Delaware student Michael Ashley discussed the racist targeting of minorities in the drug war. Philadelphia marijuana activist Mike Murray also denounced marijuana prohibition. Vanessa Maria, head of the East Coast Cannabis Coalition (ECCC), urged for a tri-state alliance in the marijuana movement between New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Vanessa’s call did not go unnoticed. After the demonstration Cindy and I met with Vanessa, Mike Murray, and Delaware NORML members Cynthia Ferguson and Jonathan Zatwarnytsky. Vanessa for the ECCC proposed a website that linked the activities of all eastern states, which would allow for inter-state coordinating for all future events. Delaware NORML members were grateful that NJ representatives came to their event, and they supported the idea to return the favor through future cooperation with NJ demonstrations. We all recognized the Eastern border states were much more handicapped in the fight to end prohibition than our Western counterparts, and thus agreed victory could only come through a strong coalition. As an organizer for the NJ demonstrations planned for next spring, I hope they can successfully serve as a launching pad for this awesome new alliance.