Up in Smoke: Marijuana activists cuffed
after lighting up at U.S. Capitol
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[April 25, 2017]
By Ian Simpson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two dozen red-hatted
protesters gathered on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Monday to call
for easing federal marijuana laws, but police snuffed out the party by
arresting four of them after they lit up joints.
The activists, who carried marijuana-leaf flags and a sign saying "Let
DC Tax and Regulate Marijuana," were calling for coast-to-coast
legalization of the recreational use of marijuana and protections for
those who use cannabis for medical reasons.
The protest included the recitation of Buddhist, Jewish, Christian and
Rastafarian prayers on the lawn outside the domed national landmark.
But police swooped in and arrested the foursome as soon as they lit up
in front of a crowd of media and sent smoke wafting across the grounds.
Marijuana is illegal under federal law and is banned from federal
property like the Capitol, while more than two dozen states and the
District of Columbia have legalized pot for medical or recreational use.
A Quinnipiac University poll released last week showed U.S. voters back
legalization by a margin of 60 percent to 34 percent, the highest level
of support for legalized pot ever recorded by the survey.
U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has said that it might ramp
up enforcement of federal laws against recreational marijuana use,
setting up potential conflicts in states where the drug is legal.
Adam Eidinger, a protest organizer who recited a Jewish prayer before
being arrested, told reporters that the sacramental use of marijuana on
federal land deserves protection under the Constitution's guarantee of
"Meaningful marijuana legislation is something that a majority of
Americans are demanding," he said. Capitol Police had no immediate
comment on the arrests.
[to top of second column]
Capitol Hill police officers arrest protesters smoking marijuana on
steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. April 24, 2017.
The protest was aimed at urging the Republican-controlled Congress to
make cannabis legal and to lift a ban on the District of Columbia's
regulation of marijuana. The Constitution gives Congress oversight power
over the district.
Activists also want lawmakers to keep intact a budget provision that
bars the Justice Department from spending funds to interfere with states
implementing medical marijuana laws.
Last week, police arrested several activists, including Eidinger, who
were distributing joints near the Capitol to generate support for
(This version of the story has been refiled to corrects spelling in
headline to "Capitol" instead of "Capital")
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
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