Remember when we all thought medical marijuana would become legal in Florida? And then we were super-disappointed when Miami failed to get out the vote? Fear not, for American democracy is a revolving door, and the time to hit the polls is coming sooner than you think.
The street soldiers of the Sunshine State's weed movement are hitting the pavement and fighting the good fight like it never ended, because it hasn't.
To help motivate and remind voters to get active, our city's Ploppy Palace and our state's chapter of NORML are bringing regional bud lovers together for funky jams and fun times at Miami's 17th annual Medical Marijuana Benefit Concert.
"Legal medical marijuana is an achievable goal, and I think it needs to happen," says Flash, a longtime activist with Poppy Palace Production and NORML, who's organized the benefit for all 17 of its years. "There's been too many people put in jail, too my people subjected to the injustices of the drug war, and I think it needs to stop."
As always, the funds remaining after covering the benefit's production costs will be donated to the Florida National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), as well as Patients Out of Time, United for Care, and the Silver Tour. These groups are petitioning Florida's lawmakers to change our laws right now, but they can't do it alone.
"I view this as a group project," Flash says. "And with that mentality of 'what can we achieve together,' we've achieved a lot."
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But just because Miami's Medical Marijuana Benefit is political, that doesn't mean it can't be a party too. The event will feature performances from a variety of bands, repping everything from reggae to rock, hip-hop, and world music. Expect sets from Johnny Dread, Telekinetic Walrus, Sweet Bone, Teri Catlin, and a dozen others.
"It's not just for one type of person. It's not just a hippie fest. It's not just for stoners," Flash insists. "We really wish to reach a lot of demographics and age brackets, while keeping unity through art and music."
The benefit will also feature special dance presentations, as well as light spinning, fire juggling, percussion ensembles, film screenings, live painting, and discussions with lawyers, activists, and happy patients whose lives have been made better through the medical wonders of marijuana.
"Florida has a lot of involvement in the movement, nationally, because of all the people that have been here," Flash says. "These are some compelling people, and by hearing all their stories, understanding what they're going through, and knowing that people can come together, we can make a difference."
Though traditionally held at the now-defunct Tobacco Road, the Medical Marijuana Benefit Concert is set for expansion at Grand Central. With a new 18-and-up policy, Flash promises two stages of nonstop music, as well as better parking and a wider audience. It's set to be the biggest party yet, and when the smoke clears, you can leave knowing that you did your part to further a cause that's healing hearts and bringing giggles to people in need.
"We will win," Flash says. "It's just a matter of how much money are we going to waste in the meantime and how many people will be subjected to these drug laws when they shouldn't be."
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17th Annual Medical Marijuana Benefit Concert, with Johnny Dread, Telekinetic Walrus, Sweet Bone, and more, Saturday, March 14, at Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Ages 18 and older. The show starts at 4 p.m., and tickets cost $12 to $15 plus fees via ticketfly.com. Proceeds support Florida's NORML, Patients Out Of Time, United For Care, and The Silver Tour. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.
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