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Anti-Marijuana Congressman Presses Felony Charges for Live Stream of Staff Meeting [FEATURE]

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1057)
Politics & Advocacy

U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), representing Maryland's Eastern Shore, has quite a reputation among marijuana reform activists—and not a good one. For years, Harris has done everything he can to block progressive reforms and has hamstrung the District of Columbia's efforts to bring full pot legalization—meaning taxed and regulated sales, not just the legalization of possession and cultivation—to the nation's capital.

vindictive anti-marijuana Rep. Andy Harris (
But his latest nasty stunt only solidifies his reputation as not only a foe of marijuana law reform but as a first-class vindictive jerk. After a contentious protest last October led by local marijuana activists fed up with Harris's interference in D.C. home rule, staffers and activists set up a meeting at Harris's congressional office.

Among those attending was Salisbury University student activist Jake Burdett. Burdett briefly live-streamed part of the meeting without seeking anyone's permission—a violation of Maryland's "all-party consent" law requiring that any recordings only take place with the knowledge of the individuals involved.

According to Maryland Marijuana Justice (MDMJ), the activist group of which Burdett is a member, the student was not aware of the state law regarding recordings, and when he was made aware of it after the meeting, he apologized to the staffer involved and deleted the live stream the next day.

Harris could have accepted Burdett's moves to atone for his innocent misdeed. Instead, he pressed felony charges against him—for revealing to the public what a public servant was saying in a government office on government time.

Adam Eidinger, the D.C. activist who led the successful 2014 legalization initiative and who grew so irritated with Harris's interference in D.C. home rule that he moved to Harris's district and co-founded MDMJ, is calling him out on it.

"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 live stream served as a conduit for the public to witness the endemic corruption in Salisbury," he said in a statement.

"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, Eidinger added.

MDMJ co-founder Kris Furnish also weighed in on Burdett's behalf.

"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," he said.

"Rep. Harris wants to pretend to be victimized by a 20-year-old’s deleted live stream, 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."

Harris's hostility toward Burdett and the other MDMJ activists is matched only by his hostility toward their cause. Named by Forbes as one of the five worst House representatives on marijuana policy, Harris has used his position on the House Appropriations Committee, which has authority over District of Columbia spending, to try to block the D.C. Council from decriminalizing pot possession, a move that led the city's non-voting delegate to Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) to call him "a tyrant."

When District voters approved marijuana legalization at the ballot box in 2014, Harris was on hand again to try again to throw up obstacles couldn't stop the city from ending marijuana prohibition, but he and his Republican colleagues in the House were able to block the District from regulating commercial sales.

It's not just that he doesn't believe in changing the marijuana laws; he has repeatedly evidenced a vindictive streak. When D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) allowed the legalization vote to go into effect despite objections from Republicans in Congress, Harris said she should be locked up, In remarks made before the 2016 elections, Harris said if a Republican won the White House, he hoped he would prosecute the D.C. mayor: "You have to wait for the next administration. It’s a five-year statute of limitations," Harris said. "All I can say is we’ll gather all the information. Maybe next the attorney general actually wants to enforce the law."

He also isn't a fan of democracy in the District: "We don’t take lightly interfering in D.C. home rule, but when they make clearly bad decisions…. This is where I think D.C. made a bad decision about its own rule and we have — the Congress has — the ultimate authority."

Harris's vindictiveness wasn't aimed just at D.C., though; he also wanted to crack down on states whose voters had democratically chosen to legalize marijuana. "It is illegal under the law. This is an example of the administration not wanting to enforce the law," he said.

Harris is a big fan of enforcing the law. In fact, he's such a big fan that he using the law to hammer down an uppity student activist who irritated—but did not harm—him or his staff. 

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Kickback (not verified)

Trump hater's are forgetting , in the midst of their unfounded hate , that Congress has a Bill , with bi-partisan support ,  ready to go , to remove Cannabis from the Drug Schedule and President Trump has done said that he would sign it . Stupid Democrats are holding it up because of hate towards President Trump. Democrats don't want his signature on it . Democrats are fools . I don't want to hear Liberal cries about President Trump and Cannabis . Democrats in the House are holding it up . 

Sat, 02/23/2019 - 1:11am Permalink
Dain Bramage (not verified)

In reply to by Kickback (not verified)

You say Democrats are blocking marijuana legalization out of spite for Trump?  That's the stupidest thing I have heard yet today.  We Democrats will legalize marijuana, and we will defeat the Republicans in order to do it.

Kickback, you dumbfuck, the Democrats are not holding back the Republicans on marijuana legalization!!  That's not possible.

Have you no shame?  -- No.  No, of course not.

Where is the Republican support for legalization in the Senate and the White House?  Non-existent, that's where.

Trump hates drugs.  Drugs at the border, drugs on the street, drugs on black people.  He is obsessed with killing drug users, it makes him salivate.  He envies Duterte!  Republicans hate drugs.  If they were going to legalize it, it would be done already.

You, Kickback, are part of the 89% who just love that scumbag Trump, and so your opinion is, naturally, bogus and invalidated.

So go drink some more Trump cult Kool-aid, fool.

Sat, 02/23/2019 - 3:27am Permalink
Dain Bramage (not verified)

In reply to by Dain Bramage (not verified)

For your information, "kickback" means "corruption."  You probably thought it was a good thing, didn't you?  You think corruption makes you slick, don't you?  Smarter than the average bear?  Yeah, I know your kind better than you think.

You're just like the rest of the Republican dumbfucks.   You admire Trump.  You secretly wish you WERE Trump, don't you?  I am onto you, Redneck.  And I find you repugnant.

Sat, 02/23/2019 - 3:46am Permalink
Dain Bramage (not verified)

In reply to by Dain Bramage (not verified)

The name "Dain Bramage" is what happens to a kid who is lied to their whole life, but who still believes in Truth.  The Man did a number on my head.  Now I am pissed.

But the best revenge is living well; that is why I work to defeat Republican fascism. 

Sat, 02/23/2019 - 4:19am Permalink
Dain Bramage (not verified)

Republicans believe in Alternative Facts.

But Alternative Facts are no better than Reefer Madness.

That means one cannot trust a Republican to maintain a marijuana fact sheet, for example.

And if they can't be trusted to handle a marijuana fact sheet without fucking it up, they sure as hell don't need to be anywhere near the goddamn codes to a nuclear fucking weapon!

Sat, 02/23/2019 - 3:52am Permalink
Kickback (not verified)

Put this in your pipe and smoke it . Democrats hold the House in Congress . Get those Bill's off the shelf to end Cannabis as Schedule 1 and be done with it . Wait , ..... Democrats in control of the House want to investigate President Trump about a parking ticket in 1967 . A dog leash violation possibly in 1961 . Democrats are sick and Delusional . CNN and MSNBC is Jerry Springer on Steroids . Russia this and that non-sense . Democrats and Pelosi could bring the Bill to a vote in the House Today . They won't do it because President Trump would sign off on it . Can't give him that . Democrats are sick . Hypocrisy . Double Standard . Sick Puppies .

Sat, 02/23/2019 - 5:19am Permalink
Dain Bramage (not verified)

Kickback, you gave me a laugh when you used the phrase "unfounded hate" in your earlier post.


Har har har!!


Har har har! 

Your fake news bubble is getting smaller and smaller, Kickback...  

Reality Check: how many of Trump's administration are either indicted or convicted, to date?  (Hint: it's a lot.)

Sat, 02/23/2019 - 5:56am Permalink
Dain Bramage (not verified)

"Russia this and that non-sense" says Kickback.

Hoo ha hee hee har har har! 

Stop! Please!  You're killing me!  AH HA HA HA HA HA!!

Sat, 02/23/2019 - 6:15am Permalink
Dain Bramage (not verified)

Kickback, Trump is NOT interested in border security.  The man is a Putin Operative and an international criminal.  The motherfucker let the Russians prance around the Oval Office without any American Press -- only Russian Press.  Just think about it for a goddamn second.  If Trump was interested in national security, he wouldn't be Putin's little bitch, now would he?  Think, Son, think!!  TRUMP KEEPS TALKING ABOUT THE WALL IN ORDER TO MANIPULATE YOU, KICKBACK!  You have been played for a sucker, Kickback.  Here's just a taste of your "Russian this and that"...

Beerfinger on DailyKos gives the quick summary: 

1. Trump literally asked Russia to steal his opponents' emails. Out loud. In front of cameras. Honestly the list should end here. But unfortunately, as we all know, that is not the case. So I proceed... 2. His campaign manager, his personal attorney slash “fixer”, and his son all met with a Russian operative during the campaign. The purpose of the meeting was to collect compromising materials that Russian intelligence claimed to have on his political opponent. 3. Trump hired Paul Manafort, a known Russian operative, to be his campaign manager. Manafort was indebted to known Russian oligarchs with close ties to Vladimir Putin and has since been found guilty on 8 counts associated with his financial ties with Russia. Another 10 counts were declared a mistrial because of one corrupt juror. He is also currently under investigation by Special Counsel for colluding with Russia during the election by supplying them with internal polling data. 4. At the Republican National Convention Trump approved a last minute change to the Republican Party platform by watering down support for U.S. assistance to Ukraine, thus satisfying one of Putin's biggest ambitions. 5. Trump, a shameless liar who routinely projects his own transparent insecurities on others, literally said during a debate with Clinton after she accused him of being Putin's puppet, "No puppet! No puppet! YOU'RE the puppet!" I mean.Come on.You don't need a psych degree to see straight through that one. 6. Overall, the Trump campaign had an unprecedented 100+ contacts with Russian’ linked officials. (That we know of) 7. Prior to his inauguration, Trump's National Security Advisor made assurances to Russia that Trump would reverse sanctions placed against Russia by the Obama administration for interfering with the 2016 election. Flynn has since plead guilty to crimes associated with that incident. 8. For 18 days, Trump ignored the acting Attorney General's warnings that Russia had kompromat on the his own National Security Advisor. In fact, he FIRED HER for alerting him to the issue. 9. Trump was literally THE ONLY person in all of these United States to be against Russian sanctions passed by Congress. In fact, the only reason he didn't veto it is because there was supermajority support for it in Congress, even among the GOP, which would have embarrassed him by handing him an early defeat and overturning his veto. 10. Trump fired the FBI director and later admitted he did so to try to end the Russia investigation. On the air. With Lester Holt. 11. The day after firing Comey, Trump secretly invited the Russian ambassador and the Russian foreign minister INTO THE GOD DAMNED OVAL OFFICE where he handed over state secrets and literally told them that he had put an end to the investigation by firing Comey. 12. At a news conference in Helsinki, Trump sided with Putin against his own FBI and then met PRIVATELY with Putin for hours. 13. On countless occasions, Trump has attacked U.S. intelligence, the free press, gold star parents, and the U.S. Courts system. He has called the national press the "enemy of the people." Yet he has consistently defended Vladimir Putin, despite Russia's involvement in interfering with the 2016 election. 

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 3:24am Permalink
Dain Bramage (not verified)

Here's another example: Republicans in Arizona decided to lower the minimum wage!

From Laurie Roberts, Arizona Republic:

Last week, a House lawyer advised legislators that a bill to create a sub-minimum wage for certain Arizona residents is an unconstitutional violation of a law approved by voters. So naturally, this week the Arizona House, on a party-line vote, approved the bill.

There is, after all, the will of the voters. But there is also the will of the Goldwater Institute, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Arizona Free Enterprise Club. Can you guess which one is more important?

House Bill 2523 would exempt businesses from having to pay certain young employees the state’s minimum wage --  the one enacted by voters in 2016.

Sun, 03/03/2019 - 9:24am Permalink

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