An altercation between demonstrators and Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland shut down part of the Longworth Building Tuesday.
A demonstrator from DC Marijuana Justice and the newly formed Maryland Marijuana Justice, groups that advocate marijuana legalization as an alternative to the opioid crisis, descended on Harris’s office Tuesday and staged an “overdose.”
Kristin Furnish, age 28, from Salisbury, Maryland, and Rachel Ramon Donlan, age 46, from Washington, D.C., were charged with possession and consumption of marijuana in a public space, according to Capitol Police.
Capitol Police shut down the hallway as Ramon Donlan lay down and smoked marijuana in the hallway outside Harris’s office. Officers later removed Ramon Donlan in a wheelchair and handcuffs.
Other demonstrators held signs with statistics about opioid overdoses and deaths in Maryland.
The demonstrators said that marijuana can be an “off-ramp drug” for Marylanders addicted to opioids.
“Citizens of Maryland and the District of Columbia are tired of Andy Harris turning a blind eye to a safe solution to the opioid crisis,” said Kris Furnish, co-founder of MDMJ. “Marijuana is a proven pain management alternative to opioids, but in Maryland we have only seen an increase in opioid-related deaths since Harris was first elected in November 2010. Members of the GOP Congress led by Congressman Harris remain willfully ignorant and outright hostile to cannabis reform. This MUST STOP!”
Many of the demonstrators have close ties to the opioid crisis and many who spoke to Roll Call have had friends die of overdoses.
“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,” said Furnish, a constituent who lives in the district Harris represents.