One of the biggest lines in Washington on Friday wasn’t on the National Mall, where a less-than-overwhelming crowd watched the inauguration of President Donald Trump, but a mile and a half or so to the northwest, in Dupont Circle, where thousands queued up to score some free weed.
Pro-marijuana group DCMJ handed out thousands of free joints as a message for Trump’s pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and the new Trump administration. The group urged everyone who received a joint to light up four minutes and 20 seconds into Trump’s inaugural address.
Some waited hours in lines stretching down Massachusetts Avenue NW toward Dupont Circle. At the head of the line a crowd of festive demonstrators and smokers formed, while people, many in costume, handed out water and sold burritos. DCMJ members played music and shouted out pro-marijuana messages to the crowd, proclaiming that marijuana wasn’t dangerous and that people who smoke it aren’t criminals.
“The main message is we want it on a federal level; we want it to remain legalized here in D.C.,” DCMJ member Felicia Simpson said. “Once they see how big of a turnout this was, how many people in D.C. appreciate it, need it, and how peaceful it was, it’s really like a no-brainer that it’s not a problem.”
According to Simpson, the group had originally intended to hand out 4,200 joints, but ended up deciding to hand out more—about 10 pounds of marijuana. They started handing the joints out at 8 a.m., and around 10:45 a.m., the group started walking toward the National Mall.
In D.C. it is legal to smoke marijuana indoors and give it to other people, but it is not legal to sell it, and it is not legal on federal land. Simpson said DCMJ did not expect any trouble, but they did warn people that if they brought pot to the National Mall, they risked arrest. Their website also promised that if anyone was arrested because of the pot they handed out, they “have set aside some money to help activists with legal costs.”
Brandon Decker, a protester from Annapolis, Maryland, said he showed up in support of marijuana legalization everywhere, but he said he thought it was important to try to protect legalization in D.C. “D.C. would be a great place to get momentum,” Decker said. “It would be a good anchor point for the East Coast.”
The pot demonstration was a mellow one, a contrast to protests elsewhere downtown marked more by chaos and arrests.