Joint Statement from MDMJ & DCMJ on the #OverdoseHarris Demonstration

Over two weeks ago, we announced our plans for two demonstrations at Congressman Andy Harris’ offices to highlight his callous attitude toward cannabis as a treatment for opioid addiction. As the sponsor of the budget rider that prevents the Council of the District of Columbia from legislating on cannabis reform, we have, on numerous occasions, both in person and in writing, sought a meeting with Congressman Harris to discuss why he continues to tyrannically stymy common-sense cannabis reforms in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and across the nation.  Harris has refused to meet with medical cannabis patients because he takes money from the pharmaceutical industry that would rather push pills than a plant.

At approximately 12 noon today, Tuesday, October 2, cannabis reform advocates gathered outside of Congressman Harris’ District of Columbia office at 1533 Longworth House Office Building. As advocates were making their way toward the Congressman’s door, he was walking down the hallway in the opposite direction and made a bee-line towards his office. DCMJ volunteer, Rachel Ramone Donlan, whom Congressman Harris promised he would talk to in person about cannabis reform, asked to speak with the Congressman and followed him to one of the entrances to his office. Instead of acknowledging her and fulfilling the promise he gave to her at his August 10 town hall meeting in Salisbury, Maryland, Congressman Harris slammed the door on her face. She tried to open the door only to find Harris had locked the door. Ms. Donlan then walked toward the other entrance to Congressman Harris’ office and his staff slammed the door on her leg. Ms. Donlan is disabled and suffers Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which is a genetic connective tissue disorder that causes her intense pain. She consumes medical cannabis in order to stay off addictive prescription drugs. After the door caught her foot, she proceeded to go on with the planned demonstration and used her medical cannabis in the hallway to help mitigate the physical pain caused by Harris and his staff.

At no time was there any assault on the Congressman, rather the Congressman and his staff assaulted cannabis reform advocates instead of attempting to hear why they were at his office in the first place.  Any bruising to the Congressman’s wrists was self-inflicted and not caused by Ms. Donlan. She weighs approximately 90 pounds and is about 5 feet tall and is spending tonight in jail due to Harris’ continued callous attitude toward cannabis reform.


This was first published on the DCMJ Twitter account


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