Last week two pro-marijuana protestors were arrested outside the congressional office of Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) after police say they smoked cannabis in public. There was also allegedly an incident in which protestors tried to force open a door to Harris’ office, an incident during which both Harris and one of the protestors say they suffered minor injuries.
Many of our readers may recognize Harris’ name since he was one of the major roadblocks to funding for Washington D.C. to implement cannabis legalization that voters in the city overwhelmingly approved in 2014.
Harris’ office released a statement the day after the incident. “In potentially dangerous situations like this, especially when a physical confrontation has already occurred, staff and Members of Congress are instructed by the Sergeant at Arms and the Capitol police to immediately lock down the entire office suite, and to call for Capitol police support,” the statement reads in part. “And that’s exactly what my staff did, despite the efforts of the protesters to force the second door open as well. Some of these same protesters have participated in, and disrupted, town halls by talking over other constituents. I commend my staff for keeping a level head during dangerous circumstances.
“Yesterday’s events were truly shocking, and I strongly condemn those who promote physical confrontation as an appropriate response or solution to policy disagreements.”
I would never condone violence unless the person in question was being victimized by violence themselves or feared they were imminent danger of violence. This wouldn’t describe these protestors at the time, and to be frank, physically forcing yourself into someone’s office after they have barred you from it is not going to convince anyone of the righteousness of your cause, least of all the person you are directing the violence towards.
But can a prohibitionist like Andy Harris really claim the moral high ground in this “debate”, considering the fact that prohibitionists like him have spent decades using the government’s monopoly on force to criminalize and jail marijuana users, growers and sellers, citizens who have not infringed on the rights of anyone else, violently or otherwise? When you support and enact policies that allow SWAT teams to kick in the doors of peaceful people, sometimes killing those people or other innocent people or family pets, can you claim the moral high ground where violence is concerned?
Those who are not infringing on the rights of anyone else should never have violence imposed upon them, no matter who they are and no matter who is bringing said violence. But let us not pretend that people like Andy Harris are not responsible for using violence on an untold number of victims through the use of law enforcement and the laws of prohibition.