Pot Activists Distribute Joints, Light Up at Trump Inauguration

By Paul Gaita 01/24/17

According to DCMJ, no arrests were made during the protest on Trump's Inauguration Day.

DC pro-marijuana protest on inauguration day.
Photo via ReasonTV/YouTube

A marijuana legalization group successfully carried out its plan to distribute thousands of free pre-rolled cannabis joints in the nation's capital on January 20, the day of Donald Trump's presidential inauguration.

Organized by DCMJ, a local advocacy group that helped pass the 2014 ballot measure to legalize marijuana in Washington, D.C., the event was not intended as a protest of Trump's presidency, said DCMJ co-founder Nikolas Schiller. Organizers instead focused their efforts on protesting the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions—a well-known critic of marijuana use—for Attorney General, and bringing attention to marijuana law reform.

DCMJ reported that "hundreds" of people lined up at Dupont Circle before the event moved to the National Mall. The group had initially intended to hand out 4,200 joints, but organizers say that more than 8,000 were handed out on Friday.

Reason TV coverage of the demonstration

Per DCMJ's plan, several hundred people engaged in what Schiller described as "nonviolent civil disobedience," and lit up at approximately four minutes and 20 seconds into Trump's inaugural address. Washington, D.C. law allows possession of small amounts of marijuana, but it remains illegal to use it in public spaces. However, DCMJ reported no arrests that they were aware of at the event.

The event stood in sharp contrast to other, violent protests that took place in the nation's capital on Inauguration Day. The group's organizers say they intend to be proactive in regard to Trump's policies on marijuana. The newly elected president has, at various times, voiced both a hands-off approach to legalization as well as opposition, based on what he perceived as problems created by Colorado's system of legal recreational marijuana.

DCMJ co-founder Adam Eidinger is hoping that the new administration will be willing to meet with him to discuss policy. "I'm hoping that Donald Trump will reach out to me personally and invite me up, and the leaders of the major marijuana groups, up to Trump Tower and have a green panel and ask us what we want to see happen," he said, according to NBC News.

As for Senator Sessions, the group met with his communications director, Chris Jackson, and has been a sizable presence at his confirmation hearings—but the cannabis advocates remain skeptical of his intentions. "He's said that good people don't smoke marijuana," Schiller told the New York Times. "We found that to be insulting to the millions of Americans that do."

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.