Amid the pomp and circumstance of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, more than 5,000 free joints were passed out in Washington, D.C. on Friday, with plans to light up exactly four minutes and 20 seconds into his speech.
The protest – coined "Trump 420" – was not speaking out against a Trump presidency, but instead was showing support for marijuana legalization at the federal level, as well as voicing concerns for Trump’s attorney general pick, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.
"There is absolute terror among the marijuana business community right now that all the progress we have made is going to be rolled back and that people who have invested millions and even tens of millions of dollars in marijuana grow operations are going to get a letter saying ‘you are violating federal law,’” Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ, a D.C. grassroots pro-marijuana legalization movement, told FOXBusiness.com.
Eidinger says he is encouraging people to smoke the handouts in public, which is illegal and can run fines of $25, if under the age of 21, to upwards of $500 and 60 days in jail for those 21 years or older.
“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,” Eidinger said.
Washington, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham told FOXBusiness.com earlier this week, that while smoking marijuana in public is illegal, they will have their hands full during the inauguration events with the over 800,000 expected to attend.
“We have a lot of things going on in Washington, D.C. over the next couple days, and that is not our number one priority,” Newsham said
Kimberly Mohammad, a Kentucky resident and veteran, says she came to the event because she wanted to raise awareness for the benefits of medical marijuana.
“Veterans have chronic pain and they suffer from PTSD – and medical marijuana can treat both of those much better than the opioids that the VA gives out now,” Mohammad said. “[Sessions] did say that ‘good people don’t smoke marijuana,’ which is something I strongly disagree with. We [are] not all [on] the couch eating Cheetos.”
Sessions has reportedly been long opposed to the use of marijuana, saying during a Senate panel last April that, “we need grown-ups in charge in Washington” and weed shouldn’t be legalized because it can lead to cocaine and heroin use.
“It ought to be minimized, that it is in fact a very real danger. You can see the accidents, traffic deaths related to marijuana,” Sessions said.
However Sessions did show signs of lightening up his stance during his confirmation hearing on January 10th, when he told Sen. Patrick Leahy that he will be "fair and just” when asked if he would use federal resources to crack down on sick people who are using marijuana in accordance with their state laws.
“I think one obvious concern is that the United States Congress has made the possession of marijuana in every state and distribution of it, an illegal act,” Sessions added.
Trump, on the other hand, said during a town hall meeting last March that he is in favor of medical marijuana, but is continuing to watch Colorado – where it is legal on the recreational level – very closely.
“I’m getting some very negative reports coming out of Colorado as to what’s happening, so we’ll see what happens,” Trump said.
Colorado and Washington state were the first U.S. states to vote to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes in 2012. Since then, California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C. have followed suit and greenlighted it.