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 about the fragility of legal pot under his administration.
DCMJ, 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 about 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 fronts — First, even though D.C. voters legalized marijuana in 2014, it is still illegal to buy or sell the drug in the nation’s capital because Congress barred city lawmakers from passing new marijuana laws.
Second, activists hope to align with Trump supporters who also back marijuana legalization in their home states so they can work together to push the Republican administration to expand legalization and address regulations that hinder pot-related businesses.
A hodgepodge of protest groups are planning massive demonstrations during Mr. Trump’s inauguration, with some aimed at disrupting the event. But 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 these 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 joints.
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 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. Trump’s inauguration speech — 420 being a popular code for pot.
A chief concern among drug reform advocates is what action Mr. Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, will take on legalization.
Eight states and the District have legalized recreational marijuana use through voter initiatives, and while the Obama administration allowed states to 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 direct federal authorities to crack down on marijuana use in states where the drug is now legal.
Drug reform advocates are likely to get a better understanding of how Mr. Sessions will handle the matter as attorney general next week, when a confirmation hearing is scheduled.
But until advocates hear his plan, they remain fearful that recent legalization progress made during the last several years could quickly go up in smoke.
“If we don’t keep fighting for what we did, the law will get reversed,” Mr. Eidinger said.
• Andrea Noble can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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