Hate Needles? Get a Coronavirus Vaccine and a Free Joint

First seen in The News Station

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Activists and advocates with DCMJ, better known as DC Marijuana Justice, have pushed cannabis legalization in the nation’s capital through stunts in the past — like when they trolled power suit-wearing Capitol Hill types by passing out thousands of hand rolled joints near the United States Capitol. But now they’re moving into the health field: They’re preparing to give out free joints for an entirely different reason this spring in an effort to encourage coronavirus vaccinations here in the nation’s capital.

The D.C. based advocacy group is planning to unleash “Joints for Jabs” starting in late March. Newly vaccinated adults will be offered a free joint to soften the shot’s invasion of their arms — adult candy, if you will, to replace the lollipop your doctor gave you as a kid.

“Joints for Jabs is a reward program for people that do their civic duty and get the vaccine,” DCMJ co-founder Adam Eidinger told The News Station.

The hope with this new initiative is to reach people under 45 who may be hesitant to get the vaccine, or who may not see it as a priority because they’re not in the high risk categories for coronavirus. Eidinger thinks everyone should be doing what they can to encourage those in their “sphere of influence” to get vaccinated. For him, that’s the marijuana community.

“[If] that means baking cookies and giving them away or if that means giving away cannabis, I think everyone should do it,” Eidinger said.

Despite 75% of DCMJ members supporting Joints for Jabs, according to Eidinger, he’s faced blowback from some younger activists who don’t want to get the vaccine.

Four in ten Americans say they “definitely or probably” would not get a coronavirus vaccine, according to a December 2020 report from Pew Research. A whopping 18% of respondents reported they’re open to having their minds changed, if they get more information or seemore people getting vaccinated. “Joints for Jabs” is trying to reach that 18% — and in a nation with close to 330 million people that percentage represents millions and millions of our peers.

“I’m putting my entire reputation in the cannabis community on the line here by saying this is the right thing to do,” Eidinger said. “If you believe in the science that supports cannabis being medicine, you need to believe in the vaccine. It’s the same kind of science that’s making the advocacy arguments for cannabis that’s making the arguments for the vaccine.”

The program will announce the giveaways a week ahead of time, but Eidinger said they are waiting to launch the program until there are more vaccines available for folks in those younger age groups. He’s already begun gathering marijuana and supplies for this project.

Gifting thousands of joints in a pandemic looks different though — no joint rolling parties with dozens of people licking papers and stacking joints. This time, Lisa Scott, the president of the D.C. Cannabis Business Association, is donating pre-rolled cones so joints can be rolled without paper licking.

“Joints for Jabs is a way to get COVID under control,” Scott told The News Station. “It will make people look, just maybe think about it. I don’t know if it’s going to make a huge impact. But we’re just hoping that it will.”

Alan Amsterdam is the owner of Capitol Hemp. He’s donating several pounds of cannabis from his home grow to Joints for Jabs.

He helped drum up support for D.C.’s Initiative 71 — the ballot measure that legalized marijuana for recreational use in the nation’s capital back in 2014. DCMJ is uniquely positioned to advocate for the coronavirus vaccine, according to Amsterdam, because of the trust they established through the grassroots organizing that ushered I-71 into law. The reason they’re even able to host Joints for Jabs is because of that ballot measure, which legalized the possession and transportation of up to two ounces of marijuana for personal use by adults 21 and older. It also legalized the personal growth of up to six cannabis plants.

“I think that people that might be concerned about vaccines and not really looking at the science of it, more looking at the propaganda that’s out there, will maybe take a closer look because they respect the DCMJ,” Amsterdam told The News Station.

A dispensary in Michigan is already giving away free weed, and Eidinger told The News Station that cannabis community members in Colorado and California, along with underground dealers in New York and New Jersey, have reached out to him and are also planning giveaways to reward coronavirus vaccinations. 50 volunteers have already signed up to help with DCMJ’s giveaway.

He thinks everyone should be using their voice — or whatever other supplies they have growing at home — to encourage good public health. To him (and public health officials of all stripes), that means getting vaccinated.

“Whatever you do, if you have some sort of influence in the community you should use it right now for this purpose because we need to defeat the apathy and distrust of the vaccine in order to get herd immunity,” Eidinger told The News Station.