"Some people came here from as far away as Alaska. Can you imagine that? Over 4,000 miles to get stoned," said the 21-year-old from Fort Campbell, Ky., standing in the midst of yesterday's 14th annual Yippies' July 4th smoke-in.
"We came," he said pointing to his buddy, "over 600 miles, through mountains and rain to get here."
"I just came up here to get high," his buddy chipped in. "I ain't never been here before, you know. I'm tripping around the country. I'm so [stoned] right now I can't hardly walk."
They were two in a noontime crowd estimated by police at 200 that gathered in Franklin Park at 14th and I streets NW to protest marijuana laws.
At 2:30 p.m., the crowd of teenagers, toddlers, men and women in their mid-30s, members of an age group better known as the Sixties Generation, started to walk and bike and roller skate south of the park toward Pennsylvania Avenue.
They chanted, "We smoke pot and we like it a lot" as they marched in front of the White House before turning south on 17th Street and then west on New York Avenue to the Interior Department, "the home of Watt, as in Watt's up, doc?" someone in the crowd volunteered.
Marijuana was smoked openly and sometimes seemingly to taunt the D.C. police, who made no arrests. Beer, wine and homemade concoctions also were pulled from ice chests as rally organizer Dana Beal said, "Marijuana is about as dangerous as caffeine."
By the time the crowd reached the Interior Department, Deputy Police Chief John Connors estimated that it had grown to about 300.The Yippies' annual smoke-in is usually held in Lafeyette Park and has attracted in past years a crowd of from 500 to 1,000 Connors said.
"I've been coming down here for the last five years. . . This is the first time we've had rain, though. The turnout is nowhere near as big," said Gary, 34, a Northwest Washington resident, one of several demonstrators who would not give a last name.
Linda from Baltimore was selling T-shirts that read "Fourth of July Smoke-In" for $6 each. "I'm selling them for the cause. It's going slow because of the weather." She said that some of the proceeds from the sales will go toward paying for the shirts and the rest to NORML a Washington-based group that lobbies for liberalized marijuana laws.
The Yippies came in all ages, dress sizes and ethnic origins. Some wore bands around their heads, others around their legs. Some wore dungarees and T-shirts, buttons, boots, bare feet and bare chests. They carried posters that read "Free the heads, jail the Feds," "Pot for people, not police," "No narks, no nukes," "Pot's an herb, Reagan's a dope," and "Free the weed."
Six-feet, two-inch Tiny said he hitchhiked here from Orlando a week ago last Friday. Asked where he was going after this weekend, he said, "I'm heading back to Florida and then California. My home is in the pack on my back."
Sue, a chubby 18-year-old from Philadelphia, wore a T-shirt that parodied a well-known cigarette ad, advertising a fictitious cigarette brand named "Marijuana." Below it were the words, "Come to marijuana country."
Three persons on their way to the mall concert by the Beach Boys singing group stopped by the Yippie festivities. "There was supposed to be free dope, but there wasn't," one said.
Nineteen-year-old Darryl of Newport News, Va., came because "I think pot should be legalized. I've been smoking for five years. This is my first year here. I tried to get up here last year, but I got busted [for possession of one and one-half ounces of marijuana]. Pot is no worse than alcohol. Alcohol is worse than pot. I got about 25 plants this tall at home," he said as he extended his joint-burned fingertips about one and one-half feet apart.
"I believe in legal marijuana," said 18-year-old Deborah, who hitchhiked here with her husband from Columbus, Ohio. "People come here every year to show that it is a necessity to have it [marijuana] legalized. They come here to stand up for what they believe in."
Jeremiah, 34, a member of a group called West Virginians for a Better Society, said "I try to grow pot for my own use. I believe a person should." He came to yesterday's protest rally with three of his children, aged 3, 5, and 7. He explained that his 9-year-old, the oldest was with her mother at the Beach Boys concert on the Mall. He said that his and similar groups were in Washington yesterday because "We're speaking up for truth. Pot is right on. I believe in it."