“Joints for Jabs” Press Release

‘Joints for Jabs’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11, 2021
CONTACT:
KRIS FURNISH (720) 607-8369
Kris@MDMJ.org

DC Marijuana Justice to Reward Free Cannabis at Vaccination Sites Across the District of Columbia in Spring 2021

Wildly Popular Joint Giveaway At Inauguration Rescheduled to Summer

WASHINGTON, DC – Like many groups across the United States, Maryland Marijuana Justice (“MDMJ”) discontinued its regular in-person meetings when the coronavirus pandemic began last year, posing a significant barrier to cannabis advocacy—an effort that relies heavily on Maryland residents’ ability to publicly convene and press for meaningful cannabis reform. Without a safe way for citizens to publicly gather to advocate for reforming the cannabis laws in the state of Maryland, MDMJ looks forward to the coronavirus vaccinations being widely available. To celebrate this momentous occasion, MDMJ is teaming up with our sister-group DC Marijuana Justice (“DCMJ”) in an event where DC home growers will lawfully distribute free bags of cannabis outside vaccination centers in the District of Columbia as soon as the general public is able to get vaccinated. MDMJ is seeking volunteers to be part of ‘Joints for Jabs’ this summer.

Dubbed “Joints for Jabs,” a play on the jab of a vaccine injection, this community effort aims to highlight the need for further local and national cannabis reform while also advocating for equitable distribution of the critical vaccine. MDMJ notes that to safely share a cannabis joint without potentially contributing to the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, each user must be vaccinated—an objective that necessitates accessibility for all District residents. The District of Columbia’s Department of Health has not yet named the public vaccination sites, but upon their identification MDMJ will issue a follow up to this release providing each ‘Joints for Jabs’ location, dates, and hours of operation.

“With all the concern around the new coronavirus vaccine, and vaccines in general, we believe giving away free cannabis will help ease the anxiety of getting the shot,” says MDMJ co-founder Kris Furnish. “I want to make sure the cannabis community helps eradicate the virus, and anyone who gets vaccinated will get a small gift of free cannabis.”

During the pandemic cannabis dispensaries have been considered essential businesses. However, due to a patchwork of state laws and a lack of federal action, millions of Americans still source cannabis from the underground economy, which has varying degrees of quality and safety. As homegrowers, MDMJ & DCMJ members gifting cannabis will only share cannabis grown free of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. 

INAUGURATION JOINT GIVEAWAY POSTPONED UNTIL AT LEAST SUMMER

MDMJ does not anticipate that enough citizens will be inoculated with a coronavirus vaccine by the time President-Elect Joe Biden is sworn in on January 20, 2021 to safely hold a joint giveaway. More importantly, assuming the pandemic has subsided President-Elect Biden has indicated there will be a summer Inauguration event on the National Mall as is traditionally done in January. 

On January 20, 2017, at the Inauguration of President Donald Trump, DCMJ organized a massive cannabis distribution demonstration called “#Trump420.”  The wildly popular protest to end marijuana prohibition highlighted the fact that cannabis reform is not a partisan issue, but an American issue that needed to be addressed by the incoming president.  Thanks to local, national, and international media attention, by 10:00 AM a line of cannabis reform advocates stretched over 6 blocks long, and by the end of the day over 10,000 cannabis joints were given away to adults of all political persuasions.  Unfortunately, nearly four years later, cannabis remains illegal under federal law.

In 2020, the House of Representatives passed historic legislation called the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (“MORE Act”). This legislation would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and enact various criminal and social justice reforms related to cannabis, including the expungement of prior convictions. However, the Senate did not take up this important legislation in the remaining days of the 116th Congress.  MDMJ expects that the MORE Act will be introduced and passed in the 117th Congress and hope Democratic leaders take action quickly.

“Together, DCMJ, MDMJ, and VAMJ lobbied members of Congress after a “Seed Giveaway” in 2019. “We lobbied lawmakers on several pieces of legislation vital to the federal legalization of cannabis, laying the groundwork for the evolution and passage of The MORE Act,” says Furnish, the group’s cofounder.

ABOUT MARYLAND MARIJUANA JUSTICE

Founded in 2018, MDMJ focuses on patient and consumer rights including home cultivation, restorative justice, and equity for People of Color. In October of 2018, MDMJ organized and staged an “#OverdoseHarris demonstration to highlight Republican Congressman Andy Harris of Maryland’s 1st Congressional Districts’ callous attitude toward cannabis as a treatment for opioid addiction where members were arrested for consuming cannabis in front of Harris’ DC office. Members of DCMJ and MDMJ participated in an annual Congressional Seed In, where free cannabis seeds were given to members of Congress and staff members.  In 2018 and 2019, aligned organizations MDMJ, VAMJ , and COMJ, were formed to advocate for cannabis reform in Maryland, Virginia, and Colorado. MDMJ demands cannabis be removed from the Controlled Substances Act and all Americans are given the right to grow cannabis in the safety and privacy of their homes.

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Click here to download a PDF of this press release

PRESS RELEASE: Maryland General Assembly Schedules Hearings for Cannabis Bills

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: ALFRED DAWSON (214) 384-1732
KRIS FURNISH (720) 607-8369

February 18, 2019

Maryland General Assembly Schedules Hearings for Cannabis Bills

Bills Being Heard Would Allow Police To Obtain Free Medical Cannabis And Tax, Regulate And Legalize Adult Use

ANNAPOLIS, MD USA — The hearings for SB0383 and SB0771 in the Maryland Senate will take place on February 26th, 2019 at 12 P.M. noon at the James Senate Office Building in Annapolis, MD. Senate Bill 0383, introduced by Senator Cheryl Kagan, (D-17) would allow law enforcement to obtain medical cannabis at no cost, not be subject to arrest or punishment under certain circumstances, and also grants many other benefits to law enforcement obtaining and using medical cannabis for the purpose of establishing a program to study the effects of intoxication as it relates to impaired driving. SB0383 provides advantages to law enforcement without preferential treatment to our nation’s veterans, that have been negatively affected by the war on drugs, and would still be subject to arrest for the possession of cannabis under Maryland state law even if this bill passes.

“If we are doing this for police officers, then why can’t we do the same for our veterans, who continue to take their lives at a rate of twenty two a day due to suffering from illnesses such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and chronic pain?” said Kris Furnish of Maryland Marijuana Justice, (MDMJ). MDMJ assisted in facilitating and organizing the Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition “Lobby Day 2019” on February, 5th. Furnish adds, “We can’t continue to arrest people and just let the police have free cannabis, we need our delegates to change the law now.”

SB0771, introduced by Senator Will Smith (D-20) would legalize, tax and regulate the adult use and cultivation of cannabis in April of 2020. While this bill allows for the cultivation of up to 4 plants by an individual over the age of 21, there are very precise restrictions surrounding the visibility of cannabis plants in a cultivators residence. These provisions do not allow for plants to be publicly visible, and also require that the plants be locked and not accessible to persons under the age of 21, but does not include any exemptions or exceptions for medical youth patients. Although these bills enact more regulations regarding cannabis, the specific guidelines within them have potential to continue the injustices we have seen perpetuated by the failed war on drugs.

“We want to make sure that the counties aren’t shafted by the tax revenue generated from legalization” said Alfred Dawson of MDMJ. Mr. Dawson adds, “Our representatives know that this issue is important to their constituents, and with the right laws in place, everyone can benefit”. In addition to the two bills in the Senate, members of MDMJ, Maryland NORML and others united under the banner of the Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition raised awareness of two bills in the Maryland House of delegates that also pertain to the legalization, taxation, and regulation of cannabis.

HB0632 introduced by Delegate David Moon (D-20) would amend the Maryland State constitution to put the question of legalizing marijuana on the November 2020 Presidential election ballot. While this bill allows for the most democratic approach to legalization, it also has the potential for voter suppression or other factors to negatively influence the results. The alternative approach is HB0656 introduced by Delegate Eric Luedtke, (D-17) the jointly related bill to SB0771, which would enact full scale legalization of cannabis in April of 2020, but also has to be approved by a super majority in both houses of the General Assembly (85 votes) in order to avoid veto by incumbent Republican Governor Larry Hogan, who has openly opposed the legalization of cannabis for adult use. The hearings for the two House bills will take place at the Maryland House of Delegates Chamber on March 6th at 1 PM.

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Maryland Marijuana Justice is an organization dedicated to fighting for cannabis users, growers and their families in the free state.

PRESS RELEASE: Congressman Harris’ Office Charges 20 Year Old Student With Felony

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 14, 2018
CONTACT:
ADAM EIDINGER (202)744-2671
Adam@DCMJ.org
KRIS FURNISH (720) 607-8369
Kris@MDMJ.org

CONGRESSMAN ANDY HARRIS’ OFFICE CHARGES 20 YEAR OLD STUDENT WITH FELONY

Harris Tries to Make an Example Out of Young Activist Who Recorded Staffer Without His Permission During Group Meeting After Multiple Protests

SALISBURY, MD – On Tuesday, October 2, 2018, Salisbury University progressive student activist Jake Burdett attended a medical marijuana protest against Congressman Andy Harris organized by Maryland’s new cannabis advocacy group Maryland Marijuana Justice (MDMJ). At the meeting inside the Congressional office that resulted from the protest, Mr. Burdett briefly livestreamed one of Harris’ staffers without his permission, which Mr. Burdett did not realize was a felony – or even illegal in the state of Maryland at all. Mr. Burdett deleted the livestream the following day after he found out his recording was illegal, but Congressman Harris dropped the hammer on Burdett to try to make an example out of him by deciding to press felony charges.

“Jake, who is a serious student leader, has a bright political future ahead of him that Representative Andy Harris wants to tarnish. In his honest attempt to provide the public with transparency into actions of a Congressional office that regularly insults marijuana reformers with false accusations, Jake’s livestream served as a conduit for the public to witness the endemic corruption in Salisbury,” says Adam Eidinger, Co-Founder of MDMJ. Eidinger adds, “MDMJ activists protested Harris for his backwards views on cannabis and refusals to meet with cannabis reform activists, so we feel Jake is being treated unfairly because of his role in the Democratic Party as Vice-Chair of the Wicomico Democratic Central Committee.”

Although Mr. Burdett is pleading guilty and he has personally apologized to Congressman Harris’ staffer, he did not realize the nonconsensual livestream was against Maryland’s “all-party consent” law at the time. “Is it unreasonable for a 20 year old to think that it’s legal to record a staffer of a United States Congressman in a public space? In a society that supposedly values transparency in government, I do find it odd that Jake can be found guilty of the ‘crime’ of recording the staff of elected government representatives in a taxpayer funded space,” says MDMJ Co-Founder Kris Furnish.

“By deciding to throw the book at Mr. Burdett for an honest mistake, one that was fixed almost immediately, it shows how partisan and petty Congressman Harris has become. He clearly wants to chill citizen participation in government,” says Eidinger. “Rep. Harris is adding to his recent list of bad PR moves that includes meeting with known White Supremacist Chuck Johnson, and planning to meet with the leader, Tomio Okamura, of a far right wing party in Czech Republic, whose secretary called for the gassing of ‘Jews, gays, and Roma’.”

“Mr. Burdett’s plea, which will take place on March 1, in Wicomico County, and Harris’ slew of prior racist scandals, should not distract from the original issue that brought me and other advocates to the protest in the first place – the legalization of cannabis,” says Furnish. “Rep. Harris wants to pretend to be victimized by a 20 year old’s deleted livestream, while he supports the racist war on drugs that actually victimizes thousands of people a day by locking them up for the victimless crime of smoking marijuana, a non-addictive substance with many medicinal benefits. Rep. Harris is a medical doctor, so I’d think he of all people would recognize the medicinal benefits of marijuana, and how it could be used as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs such as painkillers, which are an epidemic in Rep. Harris’ district right now. We can’t help but wonder if Rep. Harris’ seemingly irrational opposition to legal marijuana has anything to do with the $42,200 he’s accepted from the pharmaceutical lobby in the 2017-2018 election cycle, which vehemently opposes any form of marijuana legalization,” concludes Furnish.

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PRESS RELEASE: Rachel Donlan Seeks Formal Assault Claim Against Rep. Andy Harris For Slamming Door On Her

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 4, 2018

CONTACT:
ADAM EIDINGER (202)744-2671
Adam@DCMJ.org
KRIS FURNISH (720) 607-8369
Kris@MDMJ.org

Rachel Donlan Seeks Formal Assault Claim Against Rep. Andy Harris For Slamming Door On Her

Photos Show Ms. Donlan Bruises

Harris Statement Claims of ‘Physical Confrontation’ Mistakes Free Speech and Normal Business of Lobbying Congress

WASHINGTON, DC – When cannabis reform activists from DC Marijuana Justice (“DCMJ”) and Maryland Marijuana Justice (“MDMJ”) visited Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD-01) at 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 2,  2018 at his Washington, DC office at 1533 Longworth House Office Building,  they had planned to enter his public office and attempt to speak to the Congressman or protest him for ignoring numerous requests to listen to bonafide medical marijuana patients.  This had been announced over two weeks prior after multiple letters, physically visiting his office, and calls to his office by MDMJ volunteers requesting a scheduled meeting with medical marijuana patients were never acted upon.

At the August 10 town hall meeting in Salisbury, Maryland, Rep. Harris gave a pledge to Ms. Rachel Ramone Donlan to have a meeting concerning medical marijuana, so when she saw him walking down the hallway towards his office, she believed he was going to finally talk to her. As Ms. Donlan tries to speak to Rep. Harris, not touching him or yelling at him, she rushes to follow him into his public office not knowing he was entering through a private side door. Instead of welcoming her or saying anything to anyone present, he slammed the door in her face, and physically hurt her leg and knee.  Ms. Donlan, who is disabled, weighs about 90 lbs, and suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which is a genetic connective tissue disorder that causes her intense physical pain.  She has been consuming medical marijuana since 2011 for pain relief and as a result is opioid-free.

“I was trying to speak to the Congressman about how cannabis saved my life,” said Ms. Donlan, “but instead of pausing to listen, he slammed the door on my leg and knee.” Ms. Donlan proceeded to stage an “overdose” outside of Rep. Harris’ office and in order to deal with the physical pain caused by the congressman and his staff, she lit up a joint and was arrested by the U.S. Capitol Police for consumption of marijuana.  “Rep. Harris would rather people take pills than utilize the healing properties of cannabis,” concludes Ms. Donlan.

For over four years cannabis reform advocates have sought meetings with Rep. Harris and for four years he’s been evasive, misleading, and outright hostile to cannabis reform advocates. Tuesday’s incident only showed how far out of his way Rep. Harris would go to avoid civilized debate: he hid in his office like a coward. Twenty minutes later Rep. Harris came outside of his office with the U.S. Capitol Police, he couldn’t even identify the person who allegedly assaulted him.  He did recognize Adam Eidinger, his favorite medical marijuana constituent. Rep. Harris proceeds to claim he hurt his wrist slamming the door and goes on to spin his cowardice as political violence in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, but Rep. Harris’ negligent action of slamming his office door on Ms. Donlan resulted in bruising to her leg and knee.  A formal assault claim was began today against Rep. Harris with the U.S. Capitol Police by Ms. Donlan’s attorney Mark Goldstone.

Initial Reports of Protest Violence in the Media Were Misleading or False

For weeks MDMJ and DCMJ reached out to journalists about our upcoming demonstration at Rep. Harris’ public offices in his district and Washington, DC. We sent out press releases and called journalists and we received silence. “When the demonstration finally happened as a last resort, we ended up with misleading and fake news.” says Ms. Kris Furnish, cofounder of MDMJ and a constituent of Rep. Harris who lives in Salisbury, Maryland.  

From breathless headlines like “Protesters Try To Break Down Md. Congressman’s Office Door” from Baltimore’s CBS affiliate to Fox News, which even went so far as incorrectly saying a Twitter account “Dank City Growers” was behind the demonstration. A simple Google search and a few minutes watching the live-stream would have shown a much different picture.  “Journalists need to do a better job at hearing both sides of a story before tweeting incorrect information or writing a one-sided story. We had a statement available online but instead of including ours, CNN used only Rep. Harris’ misleading statement and in doing so missed the point of why we wanted to speak to Rep. Harris in the first place,” said Ms. Furnish, who is 28 years old and is one of the two arrestees outside Rep. Harris’ office.

“These protests wouldn’t be necessary if someone would just sit down with us advocates. We’ve tried to meet with Rep. Harris and he and his staff won’t get back to us,” continues Ms. Furnish, “Even after multiple polite attempts to meet with him and leaving message after message with his staff, a Rep. Harris staffer we encountered outside Harris’ office had no idea who we were or why we were there and proceeded to meet with medical industry representatives,” said Ms. Furnish. “It’s not plausible they didn’t know we were coming, and the whole thing felt like a set up. The reason we told the media we were coming was the hope that Rep. Harris would actually meet with us to discuss cannabis as a treatment for opioid addiction- a topic Rep. Harris mention in a press statement his office released last Friday. We would still like to meet with him and tell the story of medical marijuana patients like Ms. Donlan,” concludes Ms. Furnish.

Members of the media may contact Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671 or by email at Adam@DCMJ.org with inquiries. Rachel Donlan’s injury photos are available by request only for accredited media only.

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Photos from #OverdoseHarris Demonstration:

Rep. Harris outside his office unable to identify activists who allegedly assaulted him


DCMJ volunteer Rachel Donlan participating in a die-in outside of Rep. Harris DC office


DCMJ Phrygians in the hallway outside Rep. Harris office


Over 20 volunteers from MDMJ showed up to Rep. Harris Salisbury Office


Rep. Harris' staffer finally comes out to tell everyone to disperse and that he'd meet with only 6 members of MDMJ


MDMJ activists outside Rep. Harris Salisbury office waiting for a meeting


PRESS RELEASE: Salisbury Maryland Cops Pull Black Man Out Of Car With Seat Belt On And Charge Him With Resisting Arrest

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SEPTEMBER 20, 2018
CONTACT: ADAM EIDINGER (202) 744-2671
ALFRED DAWSON (214) 384-1732

Salisbury Maryland Cops Pull Black Man Out Of Car With Seat Belt On And Charge Him With Resisting Arrest

Video Reveals Police Abuse Towards Passenger Of Color – White Driver Is Let Go For Marijuana

In Court Tuesday, September 25, 2018 – MDMJ Co-Founder, Music Teacher, and Civil Rights Activist Suffers PTSD From Police Killing of Friend Sandra Bland

Alfred Dawson is Facing Multiple Charges and Currently Released on $3,000 Bond

Salisbury, MD USA –  When Alfred “AJ” Dawson, a 29 year old black music teacher volunteered to work for the Allison Galbraith for Congress campaign in Salisbury, MD, he never anticipated the heinous and traumatizing incident that would occur four days prior to the Maryland primary election the night of June 22, 2018. After months of waiting, AJ Dawson is scheduled to appear at the Wicomico County District Court on Tuesday, September 25.

Without proper context, AJ Dawson’s traumatic experience can be misinterpreted, so a few prior events must be stated in order to understand the reasons for this incident in the most holistic way possible. During the years of 2011 and 2012, AJ Dawson was previously arrested for possession of marijuana three times, and consequently convicted and served 30 days in the Collin County Jail in McKinney, Texas. When the pro-cannabis Amendment 64 passed in Colorado in November 2012, AJ Dawson saw this as an opportunity to gain liberties not available in Texas and hopefully escape the punishment that he had been previously subjected to by police for being a cannabis user with dreadlocks. Fortunately, AJ Dawson was able to begin an new happy life with family when he moved to Colorado in June of 2013.

In July of 2015, the murky events surrounding the death of Sandra Bland in the Waller County Jail in Waller, Texas were broadcast nationally. One of the most controversial aspects of Bland’s death in police custody was the possibility of police mistreatment. Shortly after Bland’s traffic stop, a healthy 28 year old woman was dead and no one to this day has been held accountable beyond a cash settlement with her family.

Bland’s death in the hands of the police deeply affected AJ Dawson who was close friends and played trombone with her in the Prairie View A&M University’s “Marching Storm” from 2006-2008.  As college friends often do, they shared ideas about how to change and improve black culture in America. The unexplained death of Bland traumatized AJ Dawson and many in the black community to not trust police.  And since her death, coming in proximity with police still triggers intense anxiety, panic attacks, and elevated levels of fear in AJ Dawson.

The Incident

At approximately 11 PM on Friday, June 22, 2018, AJ Dawson was the passenger in a vehicle with Maryland Marijuana Justice (“MDMJ”) co-founder, Kris Furnish on the way to Taco Bell, in Salisbury, MD. At the intersection of Ohio Avenue and Waverly Drive, Kris was alerted by the flashing lights of the police car to pull over, which she did at the nearby Wawa gas station.

The first thing the officer stated when he approached the car was that they were being pulled over because the car was past the white line at the stop sign, which Ms. Furnish disputes happened. The story of Sandra Bland caused AJ Dawson to immediately start video recording the incident with his phone. A portion of this video is being released online with this release (see below). 

Next, the officer asked for identification and they both complied.  At this point, the traffic stop was natural and routine until the officer stated, “Now when I pulled up, I smelled a hint of marijuana, which gives me probable cause to search the vehicle.” Ms. Furnish responded, “It must be my vape you’re smelling, there’s no THC in it”. Within a minute of the first officer’s statement, there were 10 other officers at the scene. The strangest and most interesting part of this incident comes next, and it must be stated that Kris Furnish, is a 5’4″ caucasian female, and AJ Dawson is a 6’3″ black male, approx 170 lbs. Both have long dreadlocks and both refused to have the vehicle searched when the initial officer asked them to exit the car for a search.

The following events can only be seen as a blatant act of racism. Two officers on the passenger side of the vehicle immediately grabbed AJ Dawson’s phone, dreadlocks and legs, without even giving him a chance to remove his seatbelt. The officers dragged AJ Dawson out of the car, slammed him on the ground, and caused him enough bodily harm that he had to be hospitalized. After the hospital clean his wounds on his legs, arms, and left eye, AJ Dawson was immediately taken to the Wicomico County District Court, where bond set at $3,000 and had to be raised by friends while AJ Dawson spent most of the weekend in jail. AJ Dawson was charged with resisting arrest, assaulting a police officer, and possession of marijuana.

Ms. Furnish, a Maryland medical marijuana card holder, whose medical cannabis the police confiscated and charged AJ Dawson with possessing, was briefly handcuffed but ultimately given a warning by the initial police officer and released., Unfortunately could not start her car to leave the gas station and none of the police officers at the scene assisted Kris in trying to jump start her car.

AJ Dawson has filed a complaint with the Salisbury Police Department (“SPD”) and on Wednesday, September 19, 2018, Ms. Furnish provided her statement concerning the incident to the SPD.  AJ Dawson’s initial court appearance is scheduled to take place at 8:30am Tuesday, September 25 at the Wicomico County District Courthouse in Room #2. AJ Dawson will be available to the media prior to and after his court appearance.

Click the image below to view the video of the incident taken by AJ Dawson:

Maryland Marijuana Justice  is an organization dedicated to fighting for cannabis users, growers, and their families in the Free State.

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Click here to download a PDF of this press release.