9,000 Free Joints: the One Inauguration Day Protest That Brought People Together

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DCMJ supporter Amanda hands out a free joint. (Photo: David Hodes)

Thousands of pre-rolled joints packed into mason jars, baggies and totes were ready for anyone 21 and over wanting a free joint at a joint giveaway event held adjacent to DuPont Circle in the heart of downtown D.C. on the morning of inaugural day.

The Inaugural #Trump420 event, organized and expertly managed by DCMJ, a cannabis activist organization co-founded by D.C. cannabis activist Adam Eidinger, was both a media circus and an outdoor sidewalk party as people of all ages from all walks of life queued up in a line beginning at 7:30 a.m. that, by 9 a.m., was five blocks long.

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Nikolas Schiller, the other co-founder of DCMJ, said that he estimated the crowd at 10,000 people. “I have been able to identify people here from California, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, Ohio and Delaware,” he said.

That huge line was a spectacle on its own, Eidinger said, looking like a Norman Rockwell painting. “We want to make it that no matter what color you are, where you came from, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “We want you to feel the love for this plant, and that people with different viewpoints love this plant.”

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The Sessions sign is intentional, indicating how backwards Sessions is on the subject of legalization.

Eidinger said they brought 8,400 joints to the event, which they started rolling last Friday using donated cannabis grown in the homes of D.C. residents. Others at the event brought more baggies of rolled joints as the event progressed.

The final joint total was estimated to be over 9,000 – that’s over 11 pounds of cannabis. If you factor in $400 an ounce, that’s $72,000 of free cannabis given out, most of it in the 24 percent THC range, according to organizers. “We have Trump supporters handing out joints,” Eidinger said. “We have Hillary supporters handing out joints. We have Trump people setting aside all of the other issues and just talking about marijuana. It’s the most unifying event in the city today.”

“Cannabis legalization is not a partisan issue,” Schiller said. “It’s an American issue.
Cannabis unites everyone.”

The IDs of everyone getting a free joint were checked twice, and the team of 25 from DCMJ coordinated the line down the sidewalk and across streets.

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Close-up of one of the 9,000 joints handed out.

It wasn’t just the District giving away free joints. A joint giveaway was also happening in Philadelphia at the same time, Eidinger said, as well as in New Jersey, California and Oregon.

As the line snaked toward a jail cell on wheels where the joints were handed out – which is a prop Eidinger uses during other protests about incarcerating people arrested for marijuana possession – it was clear that there would be more people than joints. “We will not have enough for everyone,” Schiller admitted. “But that’s what happens when we don’t have dispensaries for adult use. We have to wait for people to donate and that is the unfortunate result of not being a state because we are a district.”

The march to the inauguration after the giveaway was still a go, but Schiller said the civil disobedience goal of a large group lighting up at four minutes and 20 seconds into Trump’s inaugural speech was changed and was not a priority. But people at the giveaway event were encouraged to march down to the inauguration anyway. “If they want to light up, they can as an act of civil disobedience since possession and smoking is not allowed on federal land,” he said

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Protesters marching on 19th Street, heading toward inauguration.

When the joints ran out around 10:45 a.m., Schiller led 200 of the assembled crowd 1.5 miles down to the mall near the Lincoln Memorial.

Once the marchers joined the massive crowds trying to get in to the inauguration, the group splintered to one of the seven entry points. “The idea for being a group and smoking up kind of fizzled,” Alan Amsterdam, one of the event organizers, said. “So we let people figure that out for themselves.”

Eidinger himself didn’t join the marchers. “I don’t want to be part of the audience count at the inauguration,” he said. “But I am quite confident that the city is going to smell like marijuana today all over because when you hand out this many joints, people are going to use it.”

As he was shutting down the event, Eidinger addressed the crowd on last time: “Should we make this an inaugural event every four years? Maybe we need a national joint giveaway day.”

Click into the slideshow below for more photos (by David Hodes) from the #Trump420 event.

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