Marijuana activists arrested near the U.S. Capitol

Jessica Estepa , USA TODAY Published 2:31 p.m. ET April 20, 2017 | Updated 6 hours ago

Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ, hands out free marijuana

Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ, hands out free marijuana joints to D.C. residents who worked on Capitol Hill as part of the 1st Annual Joint Session to mark “4/20” day and promote legalizing marijuana on April 20, 2017. (Photo: Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images)

Seven marijuana activists were arrested near the U.S. Capitol, while they were handing out free joints to congressional staff and other federal employees on Thursday, aka 4/20.

Three of those arrested were charged with possession with intent to distribute, the Capitol police said in a statement. The other four people were charged with possession. The Capitol police noted that it is illegal to possess marijuana under federal law.

Among the activists arrested was Adam Eidinger, the D.C. activist who pushed for the ballot initiative that legalized marijuana possession in the city. After Eidinger was taken into custody, other members of the cannabis advocacy group DCMJ shouted in protest, demanding to know what charges he faced.

“Who polices the police?” DCMJ activist Angela Sydnor shouted as she followed the officers and Eidinger across the street.

The Capitol police did not reply, and instead asked people to keep the streets clear.

According to ABC7, Capitol police confiscated the marijuana before 2 p.m., leading to protests from the activists.

Prior to his arrest, Eidinger stood on the southeast corner of First Street and Constitution Avenue Northeast, a strip of land that isn’t under federal jurisdiction despite being right across the street from the Capitol building. He and other District of Columbia residents started handing out free marijuana joints to any person with a congressional ID.

It was all part of effort to get Congress to allow D.C. to enact laws that would regulate marijuana. While it’s legal to possess, grow and give away cannabis in the district, there are no laws that allow people to buy or sell pot.

Adam Eidinger, one of the founders of DCMJ.org, a Washington

Adam Eidinger, one of the founders of DCMJ.org, a Washington group calling for cannabis to be removed from the Controlled Substances Act, works the sewing maching with another supporter making protest props on April 13, 2017. (Photo: Paul J. Richards, AFP/Getty Images)

Most of the people crowded onto the sidewalk after “high noon” appeared to be either activists or journalists. Occasionally, someone would walk up, flash a badge and get a little marijuana.

A little more than an hour into the event, Eidinger said they probably handed out about 100 joints.

“People are coming every minute or so,” he said.

More drama may come next week, when members of DCMJ gather on the Capitol steps for a smoke-in to urge lawmakers to remove federal prohibitions on cannabis.

 

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