As Donald Trump plowed through a notably somber inauguration speech, four minutes and twenty seconds in, thousands of liberals and conservatives stood side by side on National Mall and sparked up a joint.
Earlier that morning, DCMJ — a community of cannabis users, growers and their families – had given out more than 9,000 joints for free from several check points on Dupont Circle. The movement was designed to unite people from all political stripes, while pushing marijuana de-regulation to the top of the new government’s agenda. DCMJ’s original goal of passing out 4,200 joints was quickly surpassed when more and more pro-marijuana groups, home growers and even Trump supporters offered to donate their weed.
“The morning went great; it was very peaceful,” DCMJ co-founder Adam Eidinger tells TIME. “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.” Volunteers distributed the joints from inside a pseudo-jail cell, which served to illustrate that prison is still the consequence of marijuana prohibition in the U.S. The possession of small amounts of marijuana became legal in the District of Columbia in 2015 and while 29 states have legalized medical marijuana with eight legalizing recreational use, cannabis is still a controlled substance under federal law.
Eidinger and co-founder Nikolas Schiller, along with a couple of DCMJ volunteers manned ‘Rolling HQ’ earlier this week, at the organization’s base on Massachusetts Ave. in Washington. The crop of choice was DC Diesel and Rollex Sativa and the objective from the start was peaceful but distinctly revolutionary. During the rolling session – and on the morning of the inauguration - the participants wore Phrygian-style hats, associated in early modern Europe with freedom and the pursuit of liberty. The movement has gained a lot of media attention and as a wry gesture, the group have been using magazines such as TIME and High Times as a decorative rolling surface. “This action is not as intense as other causes I've covered, such as marching for immigration rights or women's rights or the Black Lives Matter movement, which are very much about our civil liberties,” says photographer Lexey Swall who covered the event for TIME. “This is more about our personal liberties. And also it's run by a bunch of pot-heads who are pretty chill!”
Lexey Swall is a photojournalist based in Washington DC. You can follow her on Instagram here.
Andrew Katz, who edited this photo essay, is TIME’s International Multimedia Editor. Follow him on Twitter @katz.