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Well, sort of.
In December, Eidinger tweeted that he’d go “on strike from weed” this year in solidarity with the living-wage cause. Activists have recently pushed for a $15-hour minimum-wage initiative to appear on the November 2016 ballot, but face strong opposition from business leaders arguing that it would harm D.C.’s economy and drive away employers. In August, then-D.C. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Harry Wingo filed a lawsuit against the Board of Elections, which had approved the initiative’s language in July, in an effort to stop the initiative from appearing on the ballot. (Though Wingo stepped down from the Chamber last month, the court is still considering his lawsuit.)
— Adam Eidinger (@aeidinger) December 22, 2015
Fast forward to a week into 2016, and Eidinger, who’s also been advocating for the D.C. Council to lift a prohibition on so-called pot clubs, says he’s struggling to uphold his self-imposed Lent.
“I’ll be honest: My pot strike at times is more like a diet,” Eidinger confesses. “I had the full intention of giving it up completely through the election to draw attention to the living-wage initiative. But I am no longer doing it socially.”
Citing chronic body pain, the legal-marijuana advocate says he’s consumed in private, though he is no less committed to getting the minimum-wage initiative on the ballot this fall (D.C.’s current hourly minimum wage is $10.50; it’s set to rise one dollar come July). Eidinger adds that his strike/diet is meant to get people he encounters talking about the struggles of D.C.’s poorly compensated workers: When someone asks why he’s not consuming weed with them, “then the conversation gets really interesting.” Some have told him the $15 standard is too high for business.
“I think these are the two issues that are going to drive millennials to vote and really create and maintain a voter base in the city like we had in the last election,” Eidinger says of legal weed and the minimum wage in the District. “The minimum-wage campaign would totally benefit from another marijuana initiative because it drives turnout.”
Pot, the activist notes, is too expensive for many people to afford, so he urges advocates he knows to get behind the minimum wage, too. (“Put a fraction of your marijuana activism to raising the minimum wage and you’ll have more marijuana in your life,” he says.) For him, personal freedoms and fair wages are part of the same progressive whole.
Still, Eidinger’s strike has presented less-political challenges.
“I took Advil those first couple of days and I’m like, ‘My stomach does not handle it all that well—I’m still going to use cannabis,'” he says. “I told my friend, ‘Yeah, I relapsed.’ And he was like, ‘Man, you didn’t relapse, you relaxed.'”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery