The strong, sweet, distinctive smell was wafting its way across Dupont Circle.
It had to be one of the most colourful protests taking place on Donald Trump’s inauguration day – an appeal to the incoming president to federally legalise marijuana, both for medical and recreational use.
The form of the protest? Quite simple. Make use of Washigton DC’s liberal laws on medical marijuana and hand out free joints to people over the age of 21.
“We are here as a sign of protest. We think it should be legal at a federal level,” said Andrea Ovelle, one of the volunteers.
DCMJ, a Washington.-based group which focuses on marijuana laws and “equal rights for DC cannabis users, growers, and their families,” organised the event with the mission to build awareness on marijuana reform in the wake of the forthcoming Trump administration.
After meeting at Dupont Circle, the plan was to head of the National Mall to light up at precisely four minutes and twenty seconds into Mr Trump’s inaugural address, a time chosen to symbolise April 20 – or 4/20 on American calendars – which is dubbed National Weed Day, and is celebrated by many across the United States.
The line of people queueing up for a spliff spread along Masschussetts Avenue, crossed over 20th Street and headed to 21st Street. A lot of people were either keen to make a political point, get a free smoke, or do both.
“I smoke every day,” said Julia Harris, who was toking liberally on fat spliff. “I have a lot of medical problems, and this helps my nausea.”
Brandon Marquis said smoking helped him to sleep, and sharpened his appetite. Whether that qualified as medical use was unclear. But he had a strong message for Mr Trump.
“We have to keep our laws safe. We need to keep it as it,” he said.
Many pointed out that Barack Obama had failed on a vow to legalise marijuana at a federal level. They also said that countless thousands of Americans – a disproportionate number of them people of colour – were serving prison terms for minor drug offences.
Many said that the business-minded Mr Trump, might understand both the commercial and medical attractions of making it legal.
“We should legalise for everyone,” said Ms Ovelle. “There are too many people in jail.”