- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Two pro-marijuana activists were arrested Tuesday after advocates tried to confront Rep. Andy Harris at his Capitol Hill office in an incident that left the congressman with a bruised wrist.

U.S. Capitol Police officers responded at about 12:15 p.m. to a report of “unlawful demonstration activity” outside Mr. Harris’s office in the Longworth House Office Building and two of the demonstrators smoked marijuana in the hallway near his office, according to Capitol Police.

Kristin Furnish, 28, from Salisbury, and Rachel Ramone Donlan, 46, from Washington, D.C., were charged with illegally possessing a controlled substance and consuming marijuana in a public place.

Mr. Harris’s office said protesters tried to “forcibly enter” the office after the congressman entered through a private door, “bruising his wrist as they tried to force the door open.”

Mr. Harris said the incident demonstrates the problem with political discourse today.

“We all must agree to have a civilized debate when disagreement occurs,” the Maryland Republican said. “My parents fled communist Eastern Europe where people with different political opinions were harassed and punished, and it has no place in America.”

He said he rejects comments Rep. Maxine Waters made at a rally earlier in the year encouraging people to harass Trump administration officials after White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was refused service at a Virginia restaurant.

“If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere,” Ms. Waters, California Democrat, said then.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was gravely wounded in a shooting at a congressional baseball practice in June 2017, called the Tuesday incident “outrageous.”

“I’m glad @RepAndyHarrisMD is okay. Assaulting anyone because you disagree with them is NEVER acceptable,” the Louisiana Republican said on Twitter.

Video posted to social media by Adam Eidinger, another pro-marijuana advocate, showed several activists try to get Mr. Harris’s attention as he walked into the office. They then tried to enter the office but were blocked.

The House is out until after the November elections, but Mr. Harris presided over a pro forma session on Tuesday at approximately 12:30 p.m.

Mr. Harris has pushed to include language in annual spending bills in recent years to bar federal money from being used to fund or implement the District of Columbia’s new marijuana decriminalization efforts.

Activists with the group DC Marijuana Justice announced last month they were planning demonstrations Tuesday at noon at his D.C. office, as well as at 4:20 p.m. at his office in Salisbury, Maryland.

The group was planning to demonstrate “overdoses” by having demonstrators lie on the ground to make the case that medical marijuana can serve as an alternative pain management drug for people who have become addicted to opioids.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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