Pubdate: Sun, 07 May 2000
Source: Santa Barbara News-Press (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Santa Barbara News-Press
Contact:  P.O.  Box 1359, Santa Barbara, CA 93102
Author: Thomas Schultz, News-press Staff Writer, MARIJUANA MARCH UNITES ADVOCATES

Demonstration: Advocates Of Medical, Industrial And Recreational Use Join 

A colorful and noisy collection of medical and recreational pot advocates 
demonstrated along the downtown waterfront as part of a "Million Marijuana 
March" planned for 80 cities worldwide Saturday.

Chanting "Hey, hey, DEA, how many homes have you seized today?" and "I toke 
and I vote" among other slogans, roughly 200 demonstrators marched along 
Cabrillo Boulevard. Wielding signs and banging drums, they streamed past 
tourists and cheered as passing motorists repeatedly honked, waved or 
pumped fists in support.

Near the corner of State Street, the activists paused for a minute of 
silence to remember lives lost in the U.S. government's decades-long war on 

In addition, the marchers called for the legalization of industrial hemp, a 
type of marijuana plant that doesn't cause a high.

"We have to grow hemp," said Julia Bennett, 61, who lives in Santa Barbara. 
"We need it desperately."

Hemp advocates tout the plant's durability and wide range of industrial 
uses as a source of fabric fiber, fuel, food, paper -- and as an 
alternative to forest destruction and pollution from synthetic manufacturing.

Medical marijuana activists seek widespread legalization of the substance 
to ease pain or stimulate appetite in patients who suffer from terminal or 
chronic ailments such as AIDS, cancer and glaucoma and less critical 
problems like stress, depression and aches and pains.

California voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996 to allow sick patients to 
obtain marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.

Afterward, federal prosecutors closed six cannabis buyers clubs in Northern 
California, saying marijuana use is still illegal under U.S. law.

Marijuana foes say the drug can lead to paranoia, sluggishness and 
psychological addiction. Long-term, heavy use can cause lung ailments, they 

California lawmakers have avoided the medical marijuana issue, backing away 
from a proposed statewide cardholder system to allow registered medical 
marijuana users, providers and growers to avoid arrest.

Some local jurisdictions have taken steps toward medical marijuana acceptance.

In Mendocino County, the county Health Department issues an ID card that 
allows patients to possess up to six marijuana plants and two pounds of the 

In Santa Cruz, a new city ordinance allows people with diseases such as 
AIDS, cancer and arthritis to legally grow and use pot.

Organizers of the local march said that in coming weeks the seven-member 
Santa Barbara City Council will be asked to consider a similar measure.

Reportedly, no date for that hearing has been set, however.

"We can get it passed," said march co-organizer Phil Sedillos, of the local 
Cannabis Foundation, which works with other grass-roots groups.

He urged supporters to contact Mayor Harriet Miller and other city 
officials: "Just make those phone calls every day."

It seemed that the majority of demonstrators who marched locally Saturday 
supported eventual legalization of recreational use, too.

In addition to slogans aimed at industrial or medical uses, the marchers 
chanted "I smoke pot and I like it a lot" and "Legalize today, get high 
tonight," along with similar phrases.

The rally started at Cabrillo Boulevard and Castillo Street, and featured 
speakers, informational booths, a massage tent and local bands at Plaza Del 
Mar Park.

About 500 people attended this portion of the event. Some danced to reggae 
and folk music.

A handful publicly smoked what appeared to be marijuana cigarettes, 
commonly called "joints."

Police reported no arrests in connection with the event.

When the march began at midafternoon, the audience thinned as the most 
hard-core advocates took to the boulevard. By the time the procession 
reached State Street, the marchers had passed several surprised passersby 
enjoying the afternoon along the beach.

As they gathered near the base of Stearns Wharf to remember drug war 
casualties, the demonstrators positioned themselves on a grassy zone partly 
occupied by four members of the visiting Khan family of Los Angeles, who 
sat in a circle amid nearby palm trees.

The family was eating a picnic lunch of sandwiches and drinking sodas as 
the sun peeked through the cloud cover that had loomed all day.

"We heard all the honking, but we didn't know what the heck it was," said 
Tariqcq Khan, 32, a business analyst. "It's kind of interesting. I don't 
really know much about it, but it's sort of fun to see all the different 
sorts of people.
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