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DC Pot Activists Set to Protest Ban on Public Smoking

Maureen Meehan



The high following legalization in Washington, DC was short-lived as complications and bitter feuding immediately set in.

For starters, lawmakers voted unanimously last week on legislation from DC Mayor Muriel Bowser to ban marijuana use in clubs that require paid membership – including bars, hotels and restaurants.

The move angered the mayor’s allies in the DC Cannabis Campaign, which put Initiative 71 on the ballot in the first place. Adam Eidinger, DC Cannabis Campaign chairman, said the mayor’s bill is “a smack in the face” and accused Bowser of using the ban to appease congressional Republicans. Eidinger insists the ban violates the spirit of Initiative 71 and has called for a protest march and smoke-ins on 4/20.

“You want smoke-ins across the city? We’ll bring them. I have friends all across America who would love to come here and organize a smoke-in,” Eidinger threatened.

Eidinger is concerned that the ban limits smokers to indulging at home. “I feel that people with children, especially in small apartments or even teenagers, don’t want to do this around them,” said Eidinger. “People should be able to go out, get a babysitter, smoke and then come home and be a responsible parent again.”

Pro-pot activists also worry that the new rules will force poorer marijuana smokers back onto the streets where they risk arrest. This would act in opposition to one of the goals of the initiative – dealing with the striking racial disparities in pot busts in the District, where blacks are eight times more likely to face arrest than whites with similar usage habits.