Ac­tivists ar­rested at Capi­tol smoke-in

Demon­stra­tion called for le­gal­iza­tion of pot

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY LAURA KELLY

U.S. Capi­tol Po­lice on Mon­day ar­rested four mar­i­juana ac­tivists who had staged a smoke-in demon­stra­tion on the Capi­tol’s lawn to call for the na­tion­wide le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis.

Capi­tol Po­lice spokes­woman Eva Malecki said of­fi­cers ar­rested two men and two women, who were charged with pos­ses­sion and taken to po­lice head­quar­ters for pro­cess­ing.

Mon­day’s in­ci­dent fol­lowed Thurs­day’s ar­rests of eight pot ad­vo­cates who were hand­ing out free joints in front of the Capi­tol on D.C. prop­erty. Though pos­sess­ing small amounts of pot is le­gal in the city, that area is pa­trolled by Capi­tol Po­lice, who charged those ac­tivists with pos­ses­sion and pos­ses­sion with in­tent to dis­trib­ute.

Both protests were or­ga­nized by DCMJ, a lo­cal ad­vo­cacy group that calls for le­gal­iz­ing and reg­u­lat­ing the sale and use of mar­i­juana.

Mon­day’s demon­stra­tion took place on the lawn on the south­east side of the Capi­tol. Be­tween 20 and 30 ac­tivists gath­ered there with signs and flags, wear­ing ap­parel dec­o­rated with images of cannabis leaves.

The demon­stra­tors spoke for an hour about the pos­i­tive ef­fects mar­i­juana has had on their lives. In a kind of cer­e­mony, they said Chris­tian, Jewish, Bud­dhist and Rasta­far­ian prayers over the mar­i­juana be­fore light­ing the joints.

As the ac­tivists lit up, Capi­tol Po­lice calmly moved in to de­tain the smok­ers.

DCMJ lob­by­ist Jessica Lay­cock said the re­li­gious com­po­nent was per­formed, in part, to high­light free­dom of speech and free­dom of re­li­gion.

DCMJ co-founder Adam Eidinger re­it­er­ated his group’s goal of the District ex­er­cis­ing home rule when it comes to mar­i­juana.

“Congress is im­morally telling us that D.C. doesn’t have home rule any­more when it comes to mar­i­juana,” Mr. Eidinger told The Washington Times be­fore the event. “Andy Harris’s amend­ment is block­ing D.C. from writ­ing its own laws.”

In 2014, D.C. vot­ers ap­proved Ini­tia­tive 71 that al­lowed the recre­ational use of mar­i­juana. How­ever, the Harris rider — pro­posed by Rep. Andy Harris, Mary­land Repub­li­can — blocks the D.C. Coun­cil from taxing and reg­u­lat­ing the sale of the drug.

City res­i­dents may grow, pos­sess and con­sume a small amount of cannabis only in their homes.

DCMJ also is call­ing on Congress to reaf­firm the Rohrabacher-Farr amend­ment, which blocks the fed­eral govern­ment from en­forc­ing mar­i­juana laws in states where the drug is le­gal for medic­i­nal use. The amend­ment was first in­tro­duced in 2014 and has to be renewed with each sub­se­quent bud­get.

It’s un­clear the im­por­tance Pres­i­dent Trump puts on mar­i­juana leg­is­la­tion, hav­ing ex­pressed tacit sup­port for medic­i­nal use of the drug dur­ing his cam­paign.

How­ever, key mem­bers of his ad­min­is­tra­tion are out­spo­ken against the drug.

At a speech at Ge­orge Washington Univer­sity last week, Home­land Se­cu­rity Se­cu­rity John Kelly called mar­i­juana a “po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous gate­way drug that fre­quently leads to the use of harder drugs.”

Speak­ing at an event in Rich­mond last month, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions said he re­jects the idea that “Amer­ica will be a bet­ter place if mar­i­juana is sold in ev­ery corner store.”

“And I am as­ton­ished to hear peo­ple sug­gest that we can solve our heroin cri­sis by le­gal­iz­ing mar­i­juana — so peo­ple can trade one life-wreck­ing de­pen­dency for an­other that’s only slightly less aw­ful,” Mr. Ses­sions said. “Our na­tion needs to say clearly once again that us­ing drugs will de­stroy your life. In the ’80s and ’90s, we saw how cam­paigns stress­ing preven­tion brought down drug use and ad­dic­tion. We can do this again.”

Twenty-nine states and the District al­low for the use of med­i­cal mar­i­juana. Recre­ational mar­i­juana is al­lowed in the District, Alaska, Colorado, Mas­sachusetts, Maine, Ne­vada, Cal­i­for­nia, Ore­gon and Washington.

LAURA KELLY/THE WASHINGTON TIMES

U.S. Capi­tol Po­lice move in to ar­rest DCMJ pro-pot ac­tivists af­ter they smoked mar­i­juana out­side the U.S. Capi­tol Building dur­ing a civil dis­obe­di­ence protest on Mon­day. Four ac­tivists were charged with pos­ses­sion.

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