Adam Eidinger, the chairman of the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, knows that Mayor Muriel E. Bowser is toying with him a bit, but he’s all for it. He will, after all, be driving away with an exclusive “420” license plate, thanks to the mayor, on the Jeep Wrangler he recently purchased.
Bowser wrote a letter to Eidinger, who successfully spearheaded efforts to land the District’s marijuana legalization initiative on the November ballot, offering him the “low tag assignment” of 420 — the popular reference to marijuana. The mayor and D.C. Council members have long handed out these low-numbered license plates to friends and allies in the city.
“I’ve never been manipulated by a politician quite this way before, and I am so ecstatically proud that I am going to have a 420 license plate,” Eidinger said. “This has profound symbolic meaning for me.” (A spokesman for the mayor said these low-number plates bestow no extra privileges to their drivers.)
So, why does Eidinger think there’s more to the mayor’s gift than just a good-hearted gesture?
Earlier this month, Eidinger threatened to lead a smoke-in protest if Bowser supported legislation to ban pot clubs from sprouting up in the District. Pot clubs — clubs that would allow customers to indirectly buy marijuana by paying membership fees — were thought to be a way around the city’s peculiar marijuana laws, in which people can legally possess but not purchase or sell the drug. Eidinger said Bowser’s support of the legislation voided an agreement he made with her last year to prevent public displays of marijuana smoking that would anger members of Congress.
On Friday, Eidinger indicated he wouldn’t be leading a smoke-in demonstration and saw this license plate as an “olive branch.”
“We are contemplating a smoke-in,” Eidinger said Friday. “But a real smoke-in is not optically good for the whole movement.”
In her letter to Eidinger, Bowser said the tag number was an “opportunity to acknowledge your commitment to and work on behalf of your neighbors in the District.”
Bowser’s deadpan note did not acknowledge the meaning of 420, marijuana’s go-to number and the reason why the marijuana movement has anointed, well, 4/20, its day of celebration. (Read more about the origins of 420 here.)
“Oh, is there something meaningful about that number?” her spokesman, Michael Czin, wrote in an e-mail Friday.