Joint Session: Marijuana Advocates to Hit the Hill

Marijuana advocate and volunteer Felicia Simpson rolls marijuana joins for the 1st Annual Congressional #JointSession in preparation for the cannabis giveaway on Capitol Hill to bring attention to the federal law restrictions that impede on local enforcement of marijuana policies. (Mark Mahoney/The Washington Informer)
Marijuana advocate and volunteer Felicia Simpson rolls marijuana joins for the 1st Annual Congressional #JointSession in preparation for the cannabis giveaway on Capitol Hill to bring attention to the federal law restrictions that impede on local enforcement of marijuana policies. (Mark Mahoney/The Washington Informer)

Dawn Lee-Carty had to make a decision to save her then-7-year-old daughter’s life: risky brain surgery or medication that would cause convulsions. She chose neither.

Instead, she traveled from her native D.C. to Colorado to pick up cannabis oil to treat her daughter Zoey’s epilepsy, which could cause her to have as many as 50 seizures a day.

Within days of using the cannabis oil, Zoey was different — less-violent seizures and fewer seizures overall.

“I don’t see seizures anymore,” Carty said of her now-9-year-old daughter, who has been using a non-photoactive cannabis oil for a year now.

“Families should do their research,” Carty said. “The stigma [surrounding marijuana] should be broken because it gave me a better way to medicate my child.”

Since treating Zoey with cannabis oils, Carty said she has become an advocate and educator to other families who want to treat with cannabis products.

She started her own organization, Speak Life, and said she has also joined several organizations who support its medical uses and decriminalization, including DCMJ, which will be holding several protests that involve moving the celebration of the popular marijuana holiday “420” further from its subculture roots and closer to Capitol Hill.

DCMJ, the advocacy group that spearheaded the push for Initiative 71, which decriminalized marijuana in the District upon its passage, will hold several protests on Capitol Hill to continue efforts to loosen restrictions on the substance, especially federal laws that impede on local marijuana policy.

Marijuana’s current Schedule I classification marks that the Drug Enforcement Administration does not recognize any potential for accepted medical use and indicated that it has a high potential for abuse.

“Americans don’t want a crackdown on legal cannabis — they want Congress to end cannabis prohibition once and for all,” said Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ. “It is time Congress remove cannabis from its Schedule I classification — and act.”

The group organized the controversial #Trump420 protest, during which they distributed thousands of free joints to legal-age persons on the streets of D.C. during President Trump’s inauguration in January.

On Thursday, April 20, the organization will hold its first annual Congressional #JointSession — a free cannabis giveaway — for members of Congress, Congressional staffers, credentialed journalists, support staff, interns and 21-and-older Capitol Hill workers with valid congressional identification.

They will gather at First Street and Constitution Avenue, getting as close to the Capitol without being on federal land — staying within the bounds of the District’s possession laws.

So far, the organization has managed to drop off a printed invitation to the event at every Congressional and Committee office on Capitol Hill and has spoken with the Office of Congressional Ethics, which will consider the event “widely attended” if 25 non-congressional staffers show up, a requirement that will ensure that staffers who do attend will not be in violation of ethics rules.

On Monday, April 24, the group will be holding a bolder demonstration: #Reschedule420, a smokeout on the Capitol steps though possession of marijuana is illegal on federal grounds.

Carty says she will be present at both events, and on Monday will be holding a sign with photos of her daughter in the hospital before treating with cannabis oils and after the treatment, noting her decrease in hospitalization.

She said legalization of marijuana will give patients and their families an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs with harsh side effects.

“I’m really happy to be participating,” Carty said. “The government is dragging their feet on legalization and people are suffering.”

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About Tatyana Hopkins – Washington Informer Contributing Writer 98 Articles
Tatyana Hopkins has always wanted to make the world a better place. Growing up she knew she wanted to be a journalist. To her there were too many issues in the world to pick a career that would force her to just tackle one. The recent Howard University graduate is thankful to have a job and enjoys the thrill she gets from chasing the story, meeting new people and adding new bits of obscure information to her knowledge base. Dubbed with the nickname “Fun Fact” by her friends, Tatyana seems to be full of seemingly “random and useless” facts. Meanwhile, the rising rents in D.C. have driven her to wonder about the length of the adverse possession statute of limitations (15 years?). Despite disliking public speaking, she remembers being scolded for talking in class or for holding up strangers in drawn-out conversations. Her need to understand the world and its various inhabitants frequently lands her in conversations on topics often deemed taboo: politics, religion and money. Tatyana avoided sports in high school she because the thought of a crowd watching her play freaked her out, but found herself studying Arabic, traveling to Egypt and eating a pigeon. She uses social media to scope out meaningful and interesting stories and has been calling attention to fake news on the Internet for years.
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