U.S. Capitol Police officers unexpectedly arrested seven marijuana activists on federal charges Thursday as they gave away free joints to Capitol Hill staffers in compliance with a local legalization law.
Activists affiliated with the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, or DCMJ, did not plan on getting arrested, and sought to stand on non-federal land – a sidewalk near Senate offices – to avoid intervention by the Capitol Police.
A ballot initiative approved by District of Columbia voters in 2014 allows adults 21 and older to possess 2 ounces of pot and to give it away. Although local law generally is respected, marijuana possession for almost any reason remains a federal crime.
The arrests provoked outrage from the few dozen activists, who booed the officers loudly as they walked those arrested across Constitution Avenue to waiting police vans.
"Filthy pigs!" one man shouted, using language that would not have been tolerated at a large smoke-in near the White House last April, when activists thanked officers and cleaned up garbage after flouting even local law in full sight of U.S. Secret Service and Metropolitan Police Department officers. Just two people were ticketed at that event amid rumors they had blown smoke in proximity to officers.