Pot in the public square

Jolie Perea

Photo By Larry Dalton

We often overlook the benefits of herbal, all-natural medicines in favor of the copious offerings of our respective pharmacopoeias. However, Cures not Wars representative Jolie Perea believes in the healing power of marijuana. Her mission is to teach people about cannabis and the positive effects it can have on our lives. On May 28, she and her co-coordinator, Edward Brooks, will lead Sacramentans, along with other citizens worldwide, as they unite to promote cannabis awareness at the first Million Marijuana March. This is the march’s first year in Sacramento, and Perea anticipates a huge turnout. Those who show up to support a good cause will enjoy live music, arts, crafts and other local entertainment offerings. Not only will participants have a good time, but they’ll also be breaking down social myths regarding marijuana and its various uses. The festivities begin at noon, but feel free to wander on over to the Capitol anytime during the afternoon.

You’ve been busy lately, no?

Right now, we’re organizing the Million Marijuana March. So, we’re involving the co-ops, which are the local dispenser areas for medical marijuana, and we network with them, and then other artists, delivery services. It’s like a big resource pool.

Where will the march take place?

Well, the event begins earlier, at noon. But the march is going to start at the Capitol. And that’s going to be at 4:20 p.m. We’re going to march from the Capitol to the riverfront down Capitol Avenue. We have people who, on the day of the march, will hand out literature along the mall, just a little information about the movement and what we’re doing.

I’ve seen your posters around town.

Cannabis Culture, which is a magazine, and Cures not Wars provided us with the posters this year. They’re beautiful, with really good artwork. They let you know that we’re doing this in your city and we’re going to support you 100 percent.

Why are you coordinating this event?

The objective of the march is to awaken people so they know more about marijuana. Cannabis is not what the media represents it to be. So, that’s what we kind of want to do. It’s been going on for six years … over 300 cities worldwide. It was initiated by a guy named Dana Beal in 1999.

Can I give you a little information about Dana Beal? He also started the first marijuana march, during the summer of love … in 1967. He also started a protest for marijuana legalization in 1972. He started the ibogaine project, which is an addiction interrupter. He started that in 1980 to help heroine addicts overcome their horrible addictions. In 1999, he co-sponsored the first international ibogaine conference in New York, the same year he also initiated the Million Marijuana March. His latest thing is public-health marijuana, which is substituting cigarettes and alcohol with marijuana. He founded Cures not Wars.

Public-health marijuana promotes the medicinal benefits of cannabis?

Medically, for sure. But beyond that, just being truthful about what cannabis is. Because they’re not being truthful. So, people don’t have the right information to make a choice about what marijuana provides them. Or hemp, because hemp is the same thing. We could build houses. We could have clothing for everyone. Build vehicles that run on hemp fuel. We already know that Sacramento is congested from all the pollution. Marijuana can alleviate asthma problems.

Can hemp grow in the Sacramento area?

Yeah, absolutely. It’s already a proven fact. They grow it in Canada. And, right now, we’re not allowed to grow our own hemp here. … We’re hoping to have a speaker, [Assemblyman] Mark Leno, at the march to talk about it.

How do people react when you first tell them about your cause?

Most people are pretty motivated about it. At least the people we meet and see. People are very open-minded and receptive to our cause.

Have you ever participated in a march before?

I went to the first one, in San Francisco, in ‘99. I went for fun. This year, we have Soul Taco, the band … I don’t know if you’ve heard of them. And we’re going to have a reggae act, Example. And we’re also going to have a couple artists, local artists. There’ll also be DJs and belly dancers. It’s our first year ever, and that’s the cool thing about it.

Encounter any roadblocks?

Because of the Patriot Act, you’re not even allowed to protest now … without a permit. So, you don’t have your First Amendment right. That’s what it comes down to. If we don’t have a place to hold a public forum, then what do we have after that? Where can we get close to talk about things?