Marijuana legalization activists in the nation’s capital plan to hand out thousands of joints during President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration as a way to raise awareness of about the fragility of legal pot under his administration.
The advocacy group behind the ballot initiative that legalized pot in Washington, D.C., in 2014 will take to the streets Jan. 20 to give away 4,200 joints — or somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 ounces of marijuana.
“We are forced to do this type of publicity stunt because the Trump administration hasn’t mentioned marijuana once since he was elected,” said DCMJ founder Adam Eidinger. “It reminds people that the public wants change, and the politicians aren’t doing it.”
The giveaway raises awareness on two distinct fronts — first the fact that despite D.C. voters legalizing marijuana in 2014, it remains illegal to buy or sell the drug in the nation’s capital because of action taken by Congress that bans local lawmakers from passing new marijuana laws. Secondly, activists hope to align with Trump supporters who also support marijuana legalization in their home states so they can work together to push the Republican administration to expand legalization and address outstanding regulations that hinder pot-related businesses.
While a hodgepodge of protest groups are planning massive demonstrations during Mr. Trump’s inauguration, some aimed at disrupting the event, Mr. Eidinger said the marijuana protests are not meant to shut down the celebration or to alienate Trump supporters.
“We don’t want to be rude to Trump supporters,” Mr. Eidinger said, expressing hope to bring together liberals and conservatives to address legalization. “I want visitors to feel like thees marijuana people are great people.”
Activists met Tuesday to begin rolling some of the 4,200 joints they expect to give away at the inauguration.
Mr. Eidinger said participants in the giveaway will adhere to a number of rules so as to not run afoul of the city’s regulations while passing out pot.
The morning of Jan. 20, activists will meet on the west side of Dupont Circle — not in the circle itself which is technically federal land and where marijuana possession of any kind is still technically illegal. Those passing out the joints will carry no more than 2 ounces of pot, the legal limit in the city.
While activists plan to march to the National Mall for the inaugural parade, another piece of federal land where pot remains illegal, they are not encouraging people to light up the gifted joints until precisely four minutes and 20 seconds into Mr. Trumps inauguration speech — 420 being a popular code for pot.
A chief concern among drug reform advocates is what action Mr. Trump’s Attorney General nominee, Sen. Jeff Sessions, will take on legalization.
Eight states and Washington, D.C., have now legalized recreational marijuana use through voter initiatives, and while the Obama administration has let states move forward with legalization it has not sought to legalize the drug at the federal level. Activists worry that Mr. Sessions, who has spoken out against marijuana legalization in the past, could reverse course and direct federal authorities to crack down on marijuana use in states where the drug is now legal.