On December 5, 2015, the Cannabis Bureau of Delaware hosted its “2nd Annual Repeal Day Rally.” On December 5th, 1933, “in the midst of a violent and organized crime wave of epidemic proportions, the United States repealed the miserably failed and costly Volstead Act (Alcohol Prohibition),” so stated the Facebook event page. “Cannabis prohibition also doesn’t work, and it puts people in a cage for a non-toxic plant. It’s time to End the Hypocrisy!”
The Second Repeal Day Rally served as a celebration for the upcoming passage of Delaware’s Decriminalization Bill. Zoe Patchell of CB-Delaware led the charge in lobbying for this bill, which was passed by the Democratic-controlled Senate and signed by Gov. Jack Markell this past June (“No Republican voted in favor of the legislation in either the House or the Senate.”). This made Delaware the 20th state to Decriminalize marijuana. Criminal penalties for simple possession were replaced by a civil $100 fine. The law goes into effect on December 18, 2015.
The year before, I attended the first annual Repeal Day Rally in Wilmington, DE, also hosted by CB-DE, which nearly 50 people attended. That year, it was freezing outside and dark by the time we began marching at 4:20, and no one smoked openly. It was my first Delaware Rally, where I met all the DE activists, as well as ECCC member Vanessa Maria. Due to that rally, I began working in full cooperation with the ECCC and DE activists.
This year, the rally landed in Newark, DE, a small town that is home to the University. We gathered at the busy intersection of E. Main St. & Library Ave., where speeches were made. Around a hundred people gathered there, nearly twice the amount of people from the year before. Co-sponsors of the event included DE-NORML, ECCC and Delaware Patient Network. Numerous types of props were brought as well, including DE’s classic 8-foot bong with the word “Legalize” inscribed along the side, which had smoke puff up from the canister in the front. We were also joined by DE’s most famous mascot, Hempy the Leaf.
Marching from the intersection down the main street, I carried my 15-foot wide banner that read, “Cannabis Is Medicine.” There were almost enough signs to go around for everyone, and the size of our group continued to grow as we marched down the busy college street. Since Newark is the home of the University of Delaware, hundreds of students cheered in support from the sidewalk and in passing cars. I only heard one older person say something incredibly stupid along the lines of, “you dirty hippies are ruining this country.” But this sole idiotic comment was washed away from the cheers of support. The Newark Post wrote about the march: “As the protesters made their way down Main Street, many motorists beeped approvingly, and many pedestrians stopped to snap cellphone photos of the spectacle.”
Unlike the year before, the rally this year began at 2:00 under the sun in an unusually warm December. Moreover, dozens of people were smoking openly during the rally and march, unlike the more conservative march from the year before. The Newark Post wrote: “A few of the participants openly smoked marijuana during the rally.” No one was arrested for smoking, and in fact no police were present during the rally. The Newark Police Department previously refused to issue a permit for the march, but the only incident that day was when a cop drove by and passively asked one demonstrator not to walk in the street. When he said that, at least a dozen of us were marching in the street, and the one demonstrator nodded his head in approval but continued marching in the road without harassment.
The march was filled with all types of chants: “No Victim, No Crime,” “Fight Real Crime,” “End the Lies, Legalize,” “Budget Need, Legalize Weed.” College student Mike Ashley led the chant, “No More Jim Crow.” Vanessa Maria of the ECCC led the chant, “What do we want? Legalization. When do we want it? Now!” Then, the common marijuana rally slip-up followed. As Vanessa very well knew, the chant “What do we want? BLANK. When do we want it? Now!” is one of the most common phrases used in all activist movements, which became particularly famous after it was used nationwide in the Occupy Movement in 2011. And what every activist from essentially any other movement will tell you is that the next phrase in the chant is this: “And if we don’t get it, shut it down, and if we don’t get it, shut it down, and If–We–Don’t — Get–It, SHUT It Down!” But due to the bizarre conundrum of the marijuana movement, very few activists from other movements join the marijuana movement, and, conversely, very few marijuana activists get involved in other movements. For this reason, Vanessa and I have led this chant several times at marijuana protests in NJ, PA and DE, and not once did we get more than 5 people who knew the next line. At first, when Vanessa and I tried to lead this chant at the DE rally, no one responded with the next lyrics, and one elderly lady sincerely asked, “What does she mean Shut It Down?” Due to the marijuana movement’s scarcity of “professional” activists, along with the abundance of “novice” or “solely marijuana” activists, the concept of shutting down The System, via civil disobedience, is not automatic in the language of the marijuana movement. But after a few more attempts, at least half the crowd joined in the Shut It Down chant.
An after-party was held at a pizza shop along the main street, where a reefer raffle took place. In order to have a chance to win the glass art donation, people were required to contact their legislators, which over 60 people did. When we packed up to leave, we were reminded by Zoe that the next day of action would be DE Cannabis Lobby Day V on January 29, 2016, to demand full legalization in the state!
- Josh Shannon, “Pot legalization advocates march down Main Street,” Newark Post.
- Facebook event page https://www.facebook.com/events/153311571687403/
- (29 Second video) https://www.facebook.com/sarah.berryshortcake.3/videos/554741414680521/
- (5 minutes, 2 seconds) https://www.facebook.com/100007662733208/videos/1664124283852980/
- (17 Seconds) https://www.facebook.com/sarah.berryshortcake.3/videos/554739674680695/
- (11 Seconds) https://www.facebook.com/sarah.berryshortcake.3/videos/554740744680588/