Pro-cannabis group hands out thousands of free joints in Washington

Alan Amsterdam, one of the organizers who planned to hand out marijuana cigarettes in Washington DC during Donald Trump's presidential inauguration, said volunteers had been rolling joints for three weeks (AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards) (AFP/File)

Washington (AFP) - Hundreds of people dispersed through the streets of Washington on Friday during the inauguration of Donald Trump to hand out thousands of free joints and raise public awareness about cannabis consumption.

DCMJ, the organizing group, said it was distributing some 8,500 marijuana cigarettes -- double the originally planned number, following an "overwhelming public response."

Alan Amsterdam, one of the event's organizers, said volunteers had been rolling joints for three weeks. Amsterdam, who looks rather like a biker, said his main hope is that the new administration will keep its hands off the city's legalization of cannabis.

Trump's nominee as attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is a critic of legalization.

Amsterdam said Friday's dope distribution was not political.

"This is a nonpartisan event," he said. "We welcome Trump supporters, Clinton supporters and Bernie (Sanders) supporters. Everyone who stands with cannabis is welcome."

He added: "We want people to know that cannabis is legal here in DC and we want it to stay that way. Our message to Trump is: Leave it that way."

Marijuana was legalized in the District of Columbia for medicinal and recreational use in 2014, though not for commercial sale.

Nataly de Leon, a member of the pro-cannabis group, was handing out joints Friday, one at a time, to a line that seemed to just keep growing. She supports the medicinal use of cannabis.

"So many patients have severe illnesses that cannabis can really help them with," she said.

She called it "ridiculous" that people in most parts of the country can legally consume alcohol but not smoke marijuana.

Dawn Lee-Carty quipped that legalization was "one thing that will contribute to 'Make America Great Again'" -- the Trump slogan seen on a multitude of red hats around Washington on Friday.

More seriously, she said she wanted to help educate people on the benefits of marijuana use. Her ailing 9-year-old daughter, she said, had been helped by cannabis therapy.

The DCMJ group worked in 2014 for the passage of Initiative 71, which legalized cannabis use in the US capital.

Since then, DCMJ has been working to make cannabis accessible to Americans in every state.