Earlier this month activists who are a part of DCMJ, the activist group who helped to pass the legalization initiative in D.C. and have led multiple protests already, announced two separate events for the month of April. The first of these events took place on the unofficial cannabis holiday 4/20 – but it didn’t last as long as they had hoped due to an interruption by Capitol Police who arrested no less than 7 activists who were participating in the event.
The group had planned to hand out joints to anyone near the Capitol building who had a congressional ID, including interns, congressman and journalists. At noon they started passing the joints out at the corner of First Street and Constitution Avenue – which is technically not under federal jurisdiction, making it legal under D.C. law for them to possess and give away the joints without worry about police interference, or at least that’s how it was supposed to go.
Within the first couple hours they said they had passed out at least 100 joints, mostly it was activists or journalists showing up, but they did pass out some to individuals who showed a congressional ID. Unfortunately, amongst those who were smoking or vaping and generally enjoying the event and protest, there were Capitol police who decided that the protest was going to end early. They ended up arresting at least 7 activists and confiscated the rest of the joints.
“Who polices the police?” DCMJ activist Angela Sydnor shouted as she followed the officers and Eidinger across the street.
Among those arrested was Adam Eidinger, one of the faces of the DCMJ organization who has been very vocal when it comes to his views on legalizing cannabis. Three of the individuals arrested were charged with possession and intent to distribute and the other four were arrested only for possession. It was said that they were arrested because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, regardless of any local laws in place.
While getting arrested wasn’t part of the plan (at least not expected until their next protest on Capitol building grounds on 4/24) it does demonstrate exactly why they were protesting in the first place – to bring federal and state laws in line not only with each other, but with the will of the people. Last year was the start of the Reschedule 420 movement, and since then this group of activists has been holding bold protests in attempts to gain the attention of the federal government, and help them realize that continuing prohibition is only hurting our communities.
“While we know viewpoints on this issue are changing, there are still those with outdated attitudes based on myths and dangers that we all know don’t exist,” Applebaum said in a statement.
As of right now, it seems like the Monday 4/24 protest is still on – and it’s likely to end in arrest once again, but this time the activists will have been expecting it. It’s unfortunate that their protest was cut short, but in a way it still managed to send the message that needs to be heard: legalization needs to happen or arrests like this will continue each and every day. Prohibition will continue to ruin lives as well as prevent people from accessing a medicine that could actually help them – all because of the outdated views of our government.