A Weekend for Women and Weed

By Alexander Lekhtman|January 23, 2017

The nation and the world were rocked this weekend by the Women’s March. The day before, cannabis activist group DCMJ distributed thousands of hand-rolled joints—for free.

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The nation and the world were rocked this weekend by the ‘Women’s March’—a massive rally in cities around the globe on January 21, 2017, the first full day of Donald Trump’s term as President of the United States. According to the march’s organizers, the action aimed to “[recognize] that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.” It brought together people concerned about a range of political issues and hoping to express their dissatisfaction with the Trump administration.

According to the Guardian, one million people marched in Washington, D.C., overwhelming the city’s Metro subway system. Protesters gathered on the National Mall to see speakers and performers such as Madonna, Alicia Keys, Gloria Steinem, and Angela Davis. They then marched along Pennsylvania Avenue, on the route Donald Trump had taken just the day before.

Huge crowds gathered in other cities around the country, surpassing organizers’ estimated attendance. Over 500,000 marched in Los Angeles—reportedly the highest turnout for an event of its kind in almost a decade. 250,000 turned out in Chicago, forcing the march itself to be canceled as the protesters rallied in Grant Park. 200,000 marched up Fifth Avenue in New York City towards Trump Tower. Boston and Denver each saw crowds of 100,000, while tens of thousands gathered in Phoenix, Oakland, and Austin. Protesters demonstrated in foreign cities including London, Berlin, Prague, and Paris. The Women’s March official website lists 673 marches that took place around the world with over 4.8 million attending.

But the day before, a smaller protest took place in the midst of Donald Trump’s inauguration. Cannabis activist group DCMJ gathered at Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. to distribute thousands of hand-rolled cannabis joints—for free. DCMJ, who helped legalize cannabis in the nation’s capital, held the demonstration to protest Donald Trump’s nomination of U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. Sessions has expressed opposition to cannabis use and legalization.

According to NBC News, the group used over four pounds of legally grown cannabis to roll the joints, which required a large team of volunteers and several days of work. DCMJ co-founder Adam Eidinger provided some of his own cannabis, while other activists and growers donated their own plant to help the group meet its goal.

The morning of the inauguration, DCMJ traveled with 200 volunteers to Dupont Circle to distribute the joints. More than 40 people were needed to legally carry all the joints, in order to comply with the District of Columbia’s cannabis possession laws. Volunteers checked IDs for the other protesters to ensure only those over 21 years of age could receive the joints.

According to Fox Business, DCMJ warned participants they would risk arrest and fines by smoking cannabis in public and on federal property—but noted the significance of the action: “If someone wants to smoke in public at Trump’s inauguration and it smells up the place, it’s really no worse than smoking a cigarette or tobacco and it makes a powerful statement that you want change and you want reform,” said Eidinger.

The joints were distributed through the bars of a mock prison cell. A sign displayed across it read ‘Jeff Sessions is Backwards on Marijuana.’ The jail cell symbolized the consequences of cannabis criminalization. Eidinger noted the political diversity of the attendees: “We had a lot of Trump supporters, who were mixed in with those who weren’t there to support Trump. But nobody was fighting; it was like a Norman Rockwell painting.” Four minutes and 20 seconds into President Trump’s speech, DCMJ led the protesters in a smoke-in demonstration.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Police Chief Peter Newsham chose to overlook the civil disobedience, noting they had far greater security concerns for the inauguration.

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Alexander Lekhtman

Alexander Lekhtman is an editorial fellow at Filter.