WASHINGTON, D.C.—DCMJ, the advocacy and educational organization that spearheaded Initiative 71, issued the following statement regarding arrests made during its 1st Annual Congressional #JointSession on April 20, 2017.
Statement from Nikolas Schiller, co-founder of DCMJ:
DCMJ was lawfully gathered on District of Columbia land today during its 1st Annual Congressional #JointSession—a free cannabis giveaway. However, to date, seven individuals—who were Initiative 71-compliant—were arrested on DC land—not federal—during the DC-legal giveaway of cannabis to members of Congress, Congressional staffers, credentialed journalists, support staff, interns, and 21-or-older Capitol Hill workers with valid Congressional identification.
We firmly believe that these politically motivated arrests were directly ordered by the U.S. 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. Due to these politically motivated arrests, certain individuals will be wrongfully barred from peacefully participating in DCMJ’s #Reschedule420 Smoke-In at the Capitol, which will happen on Monday, April 24, 2017 at high noon. We call on legalization activists from across the country to join us on Monday as we urge Congress to support the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017 (H.R. 1227), which would finally put an end to the federal prohibition of cannabis.
Today, 71 percent of Americans don’t want a crackdown on DC- and state-legal cannabis—they want Congress to end cannabis prohibition once and for all. Giving adults access to cannabis and individuals and small businesses legal protection in DC and in all 50 states is what the American people have been asking for—just take one good look at last year’s election. It is time Congress remove cannabis from its Schedule I classification—and act. Elected officials and law enforcement should start making informed choices based on facts, rather than alternative facts and propaganda.
As Americans, we too, must continue to leverage our civil liberties and speak out against these injustices, which line the pocket books of special interest executives, particularly those of big prisons and prison unions, who are afraid of having their hours cut should arrests for a plant far less harmful than alcohol and tobacco decrease. This stall and outdated smokescreen must be lifted.
If Speaker Ryan and other elected officials continue their inaction, which is preventing responsible cannabis laws from being enacted at the federal level, they can only expect a major backlash from the voters for continuing to ruin lives, denying patients and veterans access to alternatives treatments, and putting a legitimate DC- and state-legal, $56B industry and tens of thousands of jobs in jeopardy.
At no point in our nation’s history has there been more support from mainstream America for taking cartel cash off of our streets, cannabis out of the hands of criminals, and putting it behind a legal, taxed and, regulated counter. Our policymakers should accept and recognize this—not ignore it.
DCMJ will continue to work actively to encourage Congress to maintain current laws and enact future legislation protecting states rights that grant the legal use of cannabis in the U.S. and the District of Columbia. DCMJ is confident that today’s arrests would not hold up in court because our members were lawfully and appropriately using their civil liberties under, given to them under the U.S. Constitution.
Ellen M. Mellody, Partner
Collective Consulting (C2)