WASHINGTON — Two marijuana activists were arrested for smoking pot outside of the offices of Maryland Congressman Andy Harris (R) on Tuesday and trying to force his door open.
Rachel Ramon Donlan, 46, and Kristin Furnish, 28, were arrested by U.S Capitol Police officers and charged with consuming marijuana in public and impairment. The women were protesting statements made by Harris at a town hall meeting on Aug.10.
The congressman is opposed to marijuana legalization and blamed high school drop-out rates and unemployment on recreational marijuana use during the meeting. "The last thing you need is the population of D.C. going around high," said Harris, adding that it was stupid to legalize recreational marijuana.
Video of the incident shows the protesters attempting to enter the congressman's office on Capitol Hill after he passed them in the hall and tried to shut the door on them. One protester attempted to stop the door with her foot while Harris tried to barricade the door from the other side, bruising his hand in the process. Donlan also hurt her foot in the altercation.
The congressman issued a statement accusing the protesters of assault. "Assaulting anyone because you disagree with them is NEVER acceptable."
Protesters Say Marijuana Can Combat Opioid Epidemic
Several protestors were at the congressman's office to advocate for marijuana reform as a means to combat the opioid epidemic. Studies show that marijuana can help to combat the opioid epidemic in several ways including healing diseased brain tissue, helping people detox from opioids, and providing pain relief.
Maryland Marijuana Justice co-founder Kris Furnish says that the group has tried to meet with Harris to discuss marijuana reform in the past but have been ignored.
"These protests wouldn't be necessary if someone would just sit down with us advocates. We've tried to meet with Rep. Harris and they won't get back with us," she said.
The marijuana activists had planned several protests on Tuesday at the congressman's office in Washington as well as his two offices in Maryland. Protesters planned on simulating overdoses while eulogies were recited from people who have died from an opioid overdose.
Furnish also said that marijuana is an effective alternative to opioid painkillers and that the opioid crisis has only worsened since Harris was elected in 2010. "Members of the GOP Congress led by Congressman Harris remain willfully ignorant and outright hostile to cannabis reform. This must stop."
The protesting duo refused to leave the building and laid in front of the door while smoking doobies. Consuming marijuana on federal property is a crime.