Marijuana activists march with 51-foot joint during DNC

PHILADELPHIA -- The sun was blazing and temperatures were rising to more than 90 degrees, but that didn't stop a group of marijuana activists from breaking a sweat in downtown Philadelphia on Monday afternoon.

At least two dozen people volunteered to carry a 51-foot joint from City Hall to the Wells Fargo Center -- a roughly 3.5-mile trek.

Small crowds gathered around the giant joint to watch it inflate, while a group of topless women wearing pot leaf pasties posed for selfies and handed out educational cards nearby.

Mary Beth Degray, a registered medical marijuana patient, was one of those women.

"We're here to let the DNC know that we want them to legalize cannabis federally, and we want it descheduled, not rescheduled," Degray told CBS News.

The Vermont resident has been advocating for the legalization of marijuana for years, using her fight against Crohn's disease and PTSD to highlight the benefits of the drug.

"It's a plant, and you don't have to try it if you don't want to, but everyone should have the right to have access as a first resort -- not a last resort," she said.

A 23-year-old Massachusetts woman who suffers from irritable bowel syndrome and bipolar disorder agreed.

At the age of 18, Morrell said she started having horrible panic attacks. That's when she decided to look into alternative medicine.

"I never was a smoker," Brianna Morrell explained. "I tried it less than 5 times in high school; it wasn't my thing."

But she says it was the only drug she tried that actually worked.

The Democratic Party recently embraced a "pathway to future legalization" of marijuana, calling for the drug to be downgraded in the Controlled Substances Act, the Washington Post reported earlier this month.

Activists believe the move was a step in the right direction, but recognize there's still a long road ahead.

"We can't seem to get the people to talk to us," long-term political activist Dana Beal said. "We've been demonstrating Democratic conventions since 1964."

Despite frustration that Hillary Clinton didn't respond to a letter Beal sent to her Brooklyn campaign headquarters earlier this year, the 69-year-old said he's still encouraging others to back the Democratic candidate.

"We want to see people go from mostly alcohol and tobacco world to mostly marijuana world."