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D.C. Activists Declare Independence From Andy Harris


D.C. activists encourage people to boycott vacation spots in Rep. Andy Harris' district for the July Fourth holiday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If you face less traffic on your July Fourth escape to Ocean City, you can thank the activists at DC Vote. The champions of local autonomy are recruiting D.C. residents to boycott the beach in defense of Home Rule.  

In response to Maryland Rep. Andy Harris’ attempt to block D.C. officials from implementing local legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, DC Vote is encouraging people to boycott vacation destinations in the Republican’s Eastern Shore district.  

“The people of the District have nothing against the people of Ocean City or any other place in Mr. Harris’ district,” said DC Vote Executive Director Kimberly Perry in a statement issued in advance of the July Fourth holiday. “We hope they understand that the dictatorial action of their representative – along with our lack of a voting representative in Congress – leaves supporters of democracy with few options to respond to his unwarranted attack on DC’s local autonomy.” We can also say that Mayor Vincent Gray urged support for the boycott during a Wednesday news conference.

On June 24, Harris told CQ Roll Call he intended to introduce to the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, which includes D.C.’s local and federal funds, to “target” decriminalization. His home state recently passed legislation to decriminalize the drug, which Harris said he opposes. The physician-turned-politican says D.C.’s bill was “poorly done” and, if enacted, will lead to substance abuse problems, especially among children.

DC Vote says Harris “violated basic principles of democracy and local governance” when he introduced the policy rider. “This heinous and deliberate disregard for democracy necessitates a visible response from supporters of equality across the DC region,” the group said in its statement.  

Harris is dismissing the boycott, much like he did an attempt by D.C. Councilmember and mayoral candidate David Catania to schedule a meeting about the amendment.  

“I think the residents of DC know better,” he said in a statement. “Spending the weekend on the beautiful family friendly Eastern Shore is more important than increasing drug use by DC teenagers.”  

Under the proposal, getting busted with one ounce or less of the drug would result in a fine of $25. The criminal offense currently carries up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. In Maryland, possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana will be decriminalized on Oct. 1.  

Even if vacationers don’t change their Ocean City plans, business leaders and elected officials in Harris’ district will get an earful about the boycott from Washington organizers. DC Vote is reaching out to let them know the boycott is a result of their congressman’s actions and in no way a commentary on their communities.  

DC Vote suggests supporters of democracy should check out vacation spots in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia “that are represented by members of Congress who respect the people of the District, and the laws passed by their duly-elected representatives.”