Point By Point Rebuttal of the False Accusations From Congressman Andy Harris.

March 1, 2019

Dear Rep. Harris,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my inquiry. Unfortunately, the information you provided had no sources or references, so I was able to find a vast array of reliable studies and surveys that provided contrasting data to all of the alleged negative impacts of marijuana legalization. First, a study from Kent University states that there is no concrete evidence that strict marijuana laws deter young people from using or abusing cannabis. Based on analytical data from 38 countries, Alex Stevens concluded that when a more theoretically relevant group of respondents was used to re-apply and re-analyze data from the Health Behavior in School aged Children Survey, there was no statistically significant association between policy reform and higher odds of adolescent cannabis use.

While people with a family history of psychotic disorders or that have experienced childhood abuse have a greater possibility of developing psychosis due to cannabis use, there is still only a very small percent of the population that is susceptible to these disorders, and more importantly, being familiar with genetic indications of psychotic disorders outweighs any added effect of cannabis use. Furthermore Harvard Medical School performed a recent study of cannabis related to schizophrenia in which Dr. Delisi concluded that a genetic predisposition is necessary, meaning that cannabis does not cause schizophrenia by itself.

Since the state of Colorado passed Amendment 64 in 2012 and enacted the legislation in 2014, annual marijuana use among teens has decreased in adolescents aged 12-17, according to two surveys performed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. In addition to Colorado, jurisdictions such as Maine, the District of Columbia and California also have statistics that show a decrease in marijuana use among youth ages 12-17 proceeding the legalization of cannabis.

In conclusion, there are a number of widely accepted sources that collectively agree about the positive medical benefits of cannabis in addition to policy reforms enacted by states can decrease use among adolescents. The true issue surrounding marijuana policy reform is the disproportionate arrest rates of African-Americans to whites for non-violent possession charges. My sole reason for asking you to support H.R. 420 is to discontinue the arrest of citizens for the possession of marijuana, which has been used as a tactic to destroy the lives of minorities with fines, court costs, and criminal records, which have prevented me from obtaining employment with numerous companies. I highly encourage you to consider these sources and perform more research about the positive effects of marijuana legalization and the negative effects of prohibition, such as blacks representing 50 percent of people incarcerated in the United States, even though they represent 30 percent of the overall population. Mendacious


AJ Dawson

MDMJ, Co-Founder


Bhandari, Smitha. M. D. “Marijuana and Schizophrenia: Is There a Link?” WebMD, WebMD, 22 Nov. 2018, www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/schizophrenia-marijuana-link#1.

Carey, Benedict. “Does Marijuana Use Cause Schizophrenia?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 17 Jan. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/01/17/health/cannabis-marijuana-schizophrenia.html.

Ellis, Lisa. “Medical Marijuana for Schizophrenia: Weighing the Risks and Benefits.” PsyCom.net – Mental Health Treatment Resource Since 1986, www.psycom.net/medical-marijuana-schizophrenia.

Miller, Blair. “Kids’ Marijuana Use Flat in Colorado in 2017.” 7NEWS, 19 July 2018, www.thedenverchannel.com/news/politics/share-of-colorado-kids-using-marijuana-stays-flat-in-2017-while-adult-use-increases-reports-say.

Newman, Tim. “Cannabis and Schizophrenia: New Evidence Unveiled.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 28 Apr. 2017, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317170.php.

Proal, A C, et al. “A Controlled Family Study of Cannabis Users with and without Psychosis.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24309013.

Roberts, Michael. “Activist: Falling Colorado Teen Pot Use Stats Hard for Jeff Sessions to Dismiss.” Westword, 4, 14 Aug. 2018, www.westword.com/news/colorado-teen-marijuana-use-falls-in-federal-study-9782555.

Salley, Mark. “Marijuana Use in Colorado Rises for Adults, Stays the Same for Kids.” Gov. John Hickenlooper | The Official Site of Governor Hickenlooper, 19 July 2018, www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/marijuana-use-2017.

Stevens, Alex. “Is Policy ‘Liberalization’ Associated with Higher Odds of Adolescent Cannabis Use? A Re-Analysis of Data from 38 Countries.” NeuroImage, Academic Press, 16 Feb. 2019, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0955395919300210?dgcid=author.
Wright, D. SAMHSA Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, and RTI International. “National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Comparison of 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 Population Percentages (50 States and the District of Columbia).” Stages of Community Readiness | SAMHSA,www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUHsaeShortTermCHG2016/NSDUHsaeShortTermCHG2016.htm.

Congressman Andy Harris Responds to Inquiry in Regards to HR420

February 19, 2019

Dear Mr. Dawson,

Thank you for contacting me regarding your thoughts on marijuana. As a physician and a member of the Doctors Caucus, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me regarding this very important issue.

I understand that marijuana used specifically for medical reasons can result in positive outcomes. For example, in Colorado, Charlotte’s Web, a THC-free strain of marijuana,reportedly reduces seizures among persons suffering from epilepsy. While I support efforts to cure and treat disease, I strongly believe that just like every other medication made available to the public, medical marijuana should be subjected to the FDA for rigorous testing to assure that there are not adverse health risks. 

However, marijuana is also the most commonly used illicit drug in the world, including in the United States. In 2016, an estimated 8.9% of individuals in the United States aged 12 or older used marijuana in the past month. The rate of reported marijuana use in 2016 was significantly higher than those rates reported prior to 2007. Mirroring this increase in use, the supply of marijuana in the United States has also increased. This growth has been linked to factors such as certain states’ legalization of recreational marijuana, rising marijuana production in Mexico, decreasing marijuana eradication in Mexico, and increasing marijuana cultivation in the United States led by criminal networks including Mexican drug trafficking organizations.

As a physician, I have serious concerns about the potential impact of legalizing recreational use of marijuana. Legalization in the United States and elsewhere has resulted in documented increases in drug abuse, especially among children and teenagers. Marijuana use literally changes a teenager’s brain structure; diminishes memory, attention and IQ; leads to learning and behavioral problems and poor school performance; and contributes to symptoms of depression, anxiety, psychosis and schizophrenia. Furthermore, studies show that legalization of “pot” leads to drastic increases of use among young people, with usage increasing more-than-two-fold higher than national averages. 

I hope this information has been helpful. As the Congress addresses the many challenges facing our nation, I hope you will continue to share your suggestions. To keep up with my work in Congress, visit my website at harris.house.gov and sign up to receive updates at harris.house.gov/contact-me/newsletter.Sincerely,

Member of Congress
Andy Harris M.D.

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.


RachelRamone Donlan

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