12:31 GMT23 January 2021
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    Seven pro-marijuana activists were arrested in Washington, DC on Thursday, during their “Joint Session” rally where they handed out free weed to anyone over 21 working on Capitol Hill.

    Though marijuana is legal in the US capital, Thursday’s event was meant to pressure Congress to legalize marijuana across the nation. 

    “Under federal law, it is unlawful to possess marijuana,” Eva Malecki, a spokeswoman for the US Capitol Police, told McClatchy.

    Under DC law, you can possess, purchase, grow, and give away marijuana – but you cannot sell it. The drug remains illegal on a federal level, and that extends to federal property in the District. The group maintains that the activists were on DC land, where recreational marijuana is legal, when they were arrested, but Capitol Police reiterated the drug’s illegal status under federal law in making the arrests.

    Three of the arrested activists were charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, while four were charged with possession.

    “You are cordially invited to the 1st Annual Joint Session,” a flyer for the rally stated. “Your gift of two free marijuana joints from DC residents with the nonpartisan local organization DCMJ can be picked up on Thursday, April 20, 2017 from noon – 6:20 p.m. at the corner of 1st St. NE & Constitution Ave. NE.”

    The invitation added that it is “for all members of Congress, congressional staff, interns, Capitol Hill support staff, and credentialed journalists who are over 21 years of age.” It noted that the event is “pursuant to Senate and House ethics rules.”

    “We want members of Congress, congressional staff, interns, support staff, and credentialed journalists to legally obtain cannabis so they will support removing cannabis entirely from the Controlled Substances Act,” DCMJ wrote in their media release. “Moreover, we are demanding Congress remove the DC rider that prevents the DC government changing its cannabis laws.”

    The group is now speaking out against the arrests, and calling them politically motivated.

    “We firmly believe that these politically motivated arrests were directly ordered by the US Capitol Police chief in an attempt to suppress Americans’ right to free speech and peaceful demonstration — an unlawful violation of our most basic civil liberties,” Nikolas Schiller, co-founder of the group, told McClatchy.

    To protest the arrests, the group will be hosting a “smoke-in” at the Capitol on Monday.


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    Legalization, Joint Session, Marijuana, Congress, DCMJ, Washington, DC
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