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Marijuana legalization activists based in Washington, DC, set up tables at vaccination sites across the city on Tuesday, offering free marijuana joints to individuals who showed their COVID-19 vaccination card.
A similar but smaller campaign was offered in New York City’s Union Square Park.
The #JointsforJabs campaign — spearheaded by the prolegalization group DC Marijuana Justice — has been promoted on social media and interviews since January. The 1-day handout was planned for Tuesday, April 20, also known as 4/20, a holiday celebrated annually by marijuana enthusiasts around the world.
Adam Eidinger, cofounder of DC Marijuana Justice, said the local activist community came up with the #JointsforJabs idea as a way to counter antivaccine sentiment — much of which has come from the cannabis community itself.
“It’s time for cannabis to stand up for science,” Eidinger told Medscape Medical News. “Right now, there’s just too many young people that love cannabis and believe cannabis science, but they don’t believe the science around the vaccines.”
“We HIGHLY recommend getting vaccinated,” tweeted DC Marijuana Justice on Tuesday. “We want you to be able to share that joint with friends and not worry that you might make them sick.”
The organization also suggested that vaccinated individuals might also want to then take advantage of Krispy Kreme’s offer of free doughnuts, or alternatively, tweeted the group, “If you are considering getting a sweet snack afterwards (or before!), we encourage folks to go to @bakedandwiredDC & @ABakedJoint instead of the corporate donut chain. We support local businesses who support us!”
The District of Columbia legalized recreational marijuana use in 2014, but the law is prescriptive, essentially barring recreational sales, but not home growing and use.
New York became the 15th state to legalize recreational use in early April.
Eidinger said he and other home growers donated eight pounds of cannabis and rolled some 4400 joints to give away. The rollers followed strict COVID-19 protocols, wearing masks and gloves, and using machines to roll preglued papers so that no one licked any rolling papers. The joints were placed in individual tubes.
Eighty-six teams of volunteers fanned out across every ward of the city. The locations were not broadcast to prevent crowding at the sites, Eidinger said.
He said the feedback has been mostly positive. “People are coming out of the exit and getting their joints and signing our petitions and loving it, and feeling special and feeling good about their decision,” Eidinger said. Although at least one person said “free weed” would not convince him to get the vaccine, he added.
A bill under consideration in Washington, DC, would make free giveaways like the #JointsforJabs campaign illegal, according to DC Marijuana Justice, which is fighting that legislation.
The effort in New York will not be quite as widespread. New York Marijuana Justice said it will be in the city’s Union Square Park for most of 4/20, handing out joints to people who have proof of vaccination.
Marijuana dispensaries in some other states — including a chain of dispensaries in Arizona, and a shop in Michigan — have also offered free product to people who show vaccination cards.
Alicia Ault is a Lutherville, Maryland-based freelance journalist whose work has appeared in publications including Smithsonian.com, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. You can find her on Twitter @aliciaault.
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