Apology Letter To Rep. Andy Harris

Dear Congressman Andy Harris,

After you and your staff rudely slammed your office doors on DC Marijuana Justice (“DCMJ”), Maryland Marijuana Justice (“MDMJ”) and myself, I believed that I should write a letter of apology to you and some of those affected by our recent visit to your congressional office in Washington, DC. on October 2, 2018.

I’m sorry to hear you might have hurt your wrist slamming the door on me. I’m a 46-years-old, 90 lb, handicapped, Christian, single mother that has a lifelong reputation for being a non-violent, peaceful advocate. For you to think I’m a threat to you or your office is inconceivable and ironic. It was never my intention to make you feel intimidated.

I’m sorry that formal requests, to schedule an appointment with your office have been denied for years. You told me at the town hall meeting in Salisbury, MD on August 10th that you would talk to me “offline.” I believed you, and I’m sorry I did. I thought you’d want me to enter your office and have an honest discussion. At no time did I imagine that I wouldn’t be welcome in a congressional office and now, thanks to you, I cannot visit offices unless I get an appointment. I now know it’s impossible.

I’m sorry for your soul Congressman, I pray for it daily. You fail to have the decency and ability to listen to those whose lives you affect with your staunch opposition to cannabis. Your continued prohibitionist position on common-sense drug reform hurts the poor, sick, elderly, abused, students, and our valiant veterans in states where cannabis is already legal, Have you forgotten the Hippocratic Oath? You can improve the lives of medical patients immediately if you’d only evolve on this issue.

I’m sorry that you receive money from “Big Pharma,” As a doctor, you refuse to look at the overwhelming evidence that cannabis is a healing plant. You pretend to play both sides by expressing feigned interest in research to delay legalization when research already exists. You should listen to the people, like myself, that the plant has helped. The plant is not dangerous, rather it’s the antiquated laws you continue to support that makes it dangerous.

I’m sorry for my friends at DCMJ and MDMJ because you called us “violent protesters” on your congressional website. I know none of us ever are violent. The only violence endured came from you and your staff in the form a slammed door without any explanation.

I’m sorry that so many of our friends have died in the opiate crisis waiting for cannabis to become legal and accepted by doctors like yourself. I’m sorry that you won’t help disadvantaged communities by ending the racist war on drugs. I’m sorry my friends have gone to jail for a plant. The courts are still overflowing with cases of simple marijuana possession and consumption.

I’m sorry for the women of the United States. In this moment of #MeToo and after Dr. Ford’s recent testimony, that a member of Congress assumes that an assertive woman is the same as being physically aggressive or violent. It’s true, I’m a confident and assertive woman and I won’t apologize for that. I’m sorry you fear me so very much you resorted to calling the U.S. Capitol Police.

I’m sorry that, like many women after being assaulted by a man, you attempted to put all of the blame on me and not hold yourself accountable for your actions. To defame my friends and me is typical of the toxic masculinity that you and many members of Congress exude. However, don’t forget I still have two years to file an assault claim against you. It might take me that long to decide if I should put myself through that process, again. Hopefully, by then the Equal Rights Amendment will be ratified by the final state needed for the full passage and I will be equally protected under the law.

You should apologize, Congressman. Not just for slamming the doors on us but for all of the pain and suffering at your hands. Are you sorry for your part in the opiate epidemic caused by your hostility toward cannabis reform that could otherwise save lives? I doubt that.

Finally, I’m sorry you may not want to hear from the people like myself but you will on election day. I’m not the only strong-minded woman in the cannabis community. and we will not be silenced.

Sincerely,

RachelRamone Donlan

 


Ms. Donlan can be reached at Rachel@DCMJ.org or on Twitter @RachelRamone

Our Formal Request for a Higher Level Meeting at the White House


The White House                                                             May 11, 2016
President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

We would like to sincerely thank you and your staff for the assistance in helping DCMJ take meaningful first steps towards an open and honest dialogue with your administration regarding the serious need to de-schedule cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug under federal law– a classification reserved for lethal drugs considered to have no medical value such as heroin.

Today, more than half of the country has enacted medical cannabis laws. Four states and the District of Columbia have also passed laws to make adult cannabis use legal and several more states will vote on cannabis ballot initiatives this November.

Unfortunately, we have seen a pattern by the federal government of taking a backseat, while the states stand on the right side of history. This is not the first time that the states have been forced to take action while the federal government avoids it’s responsibility to address outdated, flawed and failed policies that harm Americans.

States, one-by-one, are standing up against unconstitutional laws like the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted under the laws of other states. Prior to being ruled unconstitutional, DOMA followed a very similar pattern like various cannabis ballot initiatives. Just like we saw with DOMA, we know more states are working to take an important stance against failed and unconstitutional drug policies of the federal government.

It is important to look at the facts regarding how our nation’s failed cannabis policies harm Americans:

  • According to the ACLU’s original analysis, marijuana arrests now account for more than half of all drug arrests in the United States.
  • Of the 8.2 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010, 88% were for simply having marijuana.
  • Nationwide, the arrest data revealed one consistent trend: significant racial bias.
  • Despite roughly equal usage rates, African Americans are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana.
  • Every year, medicinal cannabis is denied to tens of thousands of patients and our military veterans, who could benefit from its therapeutic uses.
  • Modern research suggests that cannabis is a valuable aid in the treatment of a wide range of clinical applications. These include: pain relief, nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, movement disorders, among others. Marijuana is also a powerful appetite stimulant and emerging research suggests that marijuana’s medicinal properties may protect the body against some types of malignant tumors and are neuroprotective.
  • Currently, more than 60 U.S. and international health organizations support granting patients immediate legal access to medicinal marijuana under a physician’s supervision.
  • Numerous research studies also show that the dangers of marijuana may have been overestimated in the past, while the risk of alcohol has been commonly underestimated.
  • In 2011 alone, an individual in the U.S. was arrested for marijuana use, sale or possession every 42 seconds, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report.
  • Alcohol and tobacco—both legal substances in U.S.—are more toxic, more addictive, more harmful to the body, more likely to result in injuries and death than cannabis.
  • There are more black men in prison, on parole or probation today than were enslaved in 1850 before the Civil War began.

While we are appreciative of your administration’s initial effort to take steps to begin an open dialogue with the cannabis community and its organized constituents, we would like a formal commitment from your administration to continue this conversation and are requesting:

  • An official response to DCMJ regarding our listening session with ONDCP
  • An official response to our original and standing request for a higher-level meeting with senior administration officials, such as the White House Office of Public Engagement before Friday, May 20, 2016; and
  • An answer to our original request that the White House host a cannabis policy reform summit with you, your senior staff and other key stakeholders such as patients, patient advocates, business owners, grassroots advocates, the disabled community, scientists, the medical community, veterans and others.

Given the compelling and staggering facts as to why these failed cannabis policies harm Americans, we are sure you can understand why we cannot tolerate your inaction on these important issues any longer. We simply cannot stand on the sidelines and watch while everyday more Americans are harmed by what is clearly racist and unconstitutional failed drug policies. This is why we are requesting a formal response regarding the above from your administration before May 20th.

Otherwise, on Friday, May 20, Harry Anslinger’s 124th birthday— a staunch supporter of prohibition and the criminalization of drugs, who played a pivotal role in cannabis prohibition—DCMJ will gather in front of the White House for another “Deschedule Marijuana” demonstration with non-violent civil disobedience. We feel compelled to do this as a symbolic message of solidarity on behalf of the tens of thousands of medical patients denied safe access to cannabis and the additional tens of thousands of Americans, who are rotting behind bars due to cannabis criminalization.

Harry Anslinger famously said the following deplorable, racist statements to justify marijuana prohibition:

“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”

“…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”

“Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”

“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

“Marijuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing.”

“You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.”

“Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”

You should understand our protests are not just for medical research into cannabis, but ending cannabis prohibition once and for all. You have the opportunity to heal the national wound of unjust cannabis policies that have always targeted minorities, hurt patients and corrupted policing in America for nearly 80 years.

If we do not hear back from you regarding the above meeting request, we also plan to highlight the racist views justifying marijuana prohibition which are more current than Mr. Anslinger at our demonstration. We will play recordings at the protest of President Richard Nixon’s xenophobic comments made while inside the White House. For example, we intend to play a recording of President Nixon saying the following:

“I mean one {a new bill} on marijuana that just tears the ass out of them. I see another thing in the news summary this morning about it. You know it’s a funny thing, every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob, what is the matter with them? I suppose it’s because most of them are psychiatrists, you know, there’s so many, all the greatest psychiatrists are Jewish. By God we are going to hit the marijuana thing, and I want to hit it right square in the puss, I want to find a way of putting more on that.”

Our protest will ask if the 5 million Americans that were arrested for marijuana during your time in the White House went to jail for Anslinger and Nixon’s bigotry or your indifference?

At DCMJ’s April 25, 2016 meeting with ONDCP, there were 20 empty chairs in the room that could have been filled with additional cannabis stakeholders for a meaningful and open conversation with the your administration. It’s clear that the time has come to expand the conversation. You simply were not willing to let bad policies like DOMA to be left to the states to sort out. Why should cannabis reform be any different? Now is the time for you to call cannabis prohibition a bad policy that was formed by propaganda, is unjust, un-American and extremely racist in its enforcement, even in 2016.

DCMJ looks forward to hearing from you and continuing this important dialogue with your administration—behind open or closed doors. We fully realize that continuing this conversation is vastly more effective than more demonstrations, but we need a commitment from you to keep talking. Otherwise, you should be aware that this movement has no plans on stopping protests— just like those who knew it was the right thing to not stop until DOMA was overturned.

We appreciate your administration’s consideration of continuing a sensible dialogue as well as hosting a cannabis summit with key stakeholders before you leave office.

Sincerest regards,

Adam Eidinger
Nikolas Schiller
Co-Founders, DCMJ

Letter to President Obama Concerning #Reschedule420

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC

Dear President Obama,

This is our 3rd letter to you in the last two years concerning cannabis reform. DCMJ previously wrote you before Ballot Initiative 71 was voted on in the District of Columbia and after the initiative passed with over 70% of the vote. Unfortunately, we haven’t received a reply from our previous letters. This lack of correspondence is why we are writing you today.

Next month DCMJ is rescheduling the international cannabis day of celebration, April 20 to Saturday, April 2, and making it a protest of your inaction on cannabis reform. We are rescheduling the date to urge you to use your power as the president to reschedule cannabis. As a former cannabis (and current?) user, you know firsthand that cannabis does not belong in the Controlled Substances Act. While thousands of Americans die each each year due to dangerous drugs like heroin, the placement of cannabis in the same category makes a mockery of the Controlled Substances Act and breeds distrust in our law enforcement and our government .

I anticipate hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans will join us at 4:20pm for mass-consumption of cannabis on Pennsylvania Ave. as form of civil disobedience. However, I am willing to call off the mass-consumption of cannabis if you agree to a Bud Summit, where leaders of the cannabis reform movement are invited to the White House to discuss steps you can take to end the failed War on Drugs you inherited as president.

As American citizens of the District of Columbia, we do not have Senators or Representatives to advocate for us in Congress. Thanks to the 23rd amendment to the Constitution, we only have you to speak for us. I am tired of waiting for Congress to reschedule cannabis. They would rather continue the failed War on Drugs instead of actually fixing the problems facing America. DCMJ respectfully urges you to call out their failed leadership and fix a genuine problem that you have the power to fix. No more lives need to be ruined with unethical imprisonment for cannabis-related crimes if you act now.

Sincerest Regards,

Adam Eidinger
Founder, DCMJ



Photo of our previous mailing:

Letter to DC Councilmembers

Dear Councilmember:

The undersigned organizations call upon you to co-sponsor and prioritize passage of legislation that would eliminate all penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana under District of Columbia law. Residents of the District of Columbia are arrested for marijuana possession at greater rates than residents of any U.S. state and almost any U.S. city, and the District spends more per capita on marijuana arrests than any other state in the country.

We are appalled by the waste of taxpayer dollars, law enforcement resources and time expended on marijuana possession arrests in D.C., the onerous collateral consequences that follow an arrest, as well as the stark and unacceptable racial disparities in local marijuana law enforcement. We join many of our fellow D.C. residents in support of legal possession of up to two ounces of marijuana in the District of Columbia.

African Americans comprise just over half the D.C. population, but accounted for more than nine out of every ten marijuana possession arrests in 2010, according to MPD data recently analyzed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The overall marijuana arrest rate in D.C. has grown by more than 60 percent since 2001 and — even more disturbing — the racial disparity in D.C. marijuana arrests has widened by more than 75 percent during that period, from 4.1 to 1 in 2001 to 8.0 to 1 in 2010. Literally tens of thousands of D.C. residents – most of whom are African American or Latino – have been arrested for marijuana possession in the past decade.

The consequences of drug arrests and convictions are severe. In the months and years following a marijuana arrest, individuals with criminal records are denied jobs, rental housing, accreditations, loans and other means to achieve economic self-sufficiency and contribute to the tax base. Unable to pursue many occupational, educational and financial opportunities, people with criminal records are marginalized and left vulnerable to homelessness, untreated physical and mental illnesses, substance dependence, and exposure to HIV and other blood-borne infections. People, including young people, who use marijuana should no longer be criminalized or otherwise be penalized. Where legislation seeks to mandate education for young people about drug use, that information should be based on legitimate scientific and medical evidence.

An April 2013 Public Policy Polling survey found that nearly two-thirds of D.C. voters would support a ballot measure that legalized, taxed and regulated marijuana like alcohol. Nearly two- thirds would support a ballot measure that made possession up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use legal for adults 21 or older. 75 percent of D.C. voters expressed support for removing criminal penalties for marijuana possession. 54 percent expressed support for removing criminal penalties for possession of any drug.

California, Connecticut, Nebraska, Colorado and five other states have repealed criminal penalties for marijuana possession while two states are moving forward with taxation and regulation of marijuana like alcohol. Marijuana policy reform legislation is also pending in Congress and in many states at a time when national polling shows a solid majority of Americans support ending marijuana prohibition. We urge and respectfully request that you prioritize repeal
of all criminal and civil penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in the District of Columbia.

Sincerely,
American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital
Bread for the City
DCMJ.Org
Drug Policy Alliance
HIPS
NAACP Washington, DC Branch
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
START at Westminster