Watch: AU alumnus Adam Eidinger, chairman of the D.C. Marijuana campaign
At first glance, Adam Eidinger looks like no more than another tie-dye-clad hippie who spends his days protesting and smoking pot.
Eidinger is a graduate of the School of Communication and earned his degree back in 1996. He is currently chairman of the D.C. Marijuana Campaign, which has raised funds to spread awareness about racial prejudice in the enforcement of D.C. marijuana laws.
“I’m 41, and I still feel like a college student,” he said. “The people who grew up during the DARE movement, during the Nancy Reagan ‘Just Say No’ movement, were all told lies about drugs.”
For those in D.C. who expect to see successful businessmen and political leaders wearing expensive suits, Eidinger comes as a surprise.
Last November, 70 percent of voters supported Initiative 71, the legalization of recreational marijuana in the nation’s capitol, the Eagle previously reported. The D.C. Marijuana Campaign originally drafted the initiative.
During his time spent at AU, Eidinger was also an active member of the Debate Team and helped form the American University Altamonte Disc Association (Altamont Frisbee club).
Over the past few months, Eidinger has been prominent in the news, landing on the front page of The Washington Post. In addition to Eidinger's publicity, which usually correlates with his civil-disobedience protests, Eidinger has been arrested more than 14 times, according to The Post. His first arrest was as a freshman at AU, for streaking through the Letts-Anderson quad.
“I went out to my friend’s car parked in the lot, got undressed and put on a tie, shoes, socks, ski hat, sunglasses and nothing else,” Eidinger said. “I was thinking I would start a tradition. So I got out of the car in like 7 degrees and ran around the quad as everyone opened their windows screaming and yelling.”
The Eagle had the opportunity to sit down with Eidinger to talk further about protesting in the 21st century, his time at AU and the confusion surrounding enacting Initiative 71.
During his time at AU, Eidinger was active in protesting against tuition increases and past president Benjamin Ladner, who was ousted in 2005 for abusing University funding.
“This school, I felt, was totally out-of-line,” Eidinger said. “And I don’t think it’s not a coincidence that all of these years later, I’ve never been invited to speak at the school. It’s because I’m a radical and because I’ve learned over the years that the only way you get things done in this world is if you're prickly, if you're pushy, if you're making the demand.”
Although Eidinger spent most of his childhood abstaining from drugs, he first began using marijuana his first year at AU.
“I got into marijuana at AU,” Eidinger said. "I can thank AU."
“I started seeing these very productive pot smokers that had more endurance than me,” Eidinger said. “So I started smoking pot and noticed that it didn't affect my grades. If anything, my grades went up. I started to deal with stress better. I stopped drinking as much alcohol. I was pretty much an alcoholic my freshman year.”
In addition to leading the D.C. Marijuana Campaign, Eidinger is also an owner and consultant at public relations firm Mintwood Strategies, a former owner of D.C.’s hemp store Capitol Hemp, a former D.C. shadow representative candidate, a father and an Eagle Scout.
Though Eidinger is now a full-time adult dealing with multiple responsibilities including D.C.’s marijuana laws, he still traces much of his roots in activism back to his past experiences at AU.
“I got into marijuana at AU,” Eidinger said. “I can thank AU… [the University] likes to say that it is a drug-free environment. Bullshit. The best environment in a college is a college that deals with drugs as a fact of life and then tries to reduce the harm associated with them,” Eidinger said.