You’ve probably all seen the pictures from the Capitol takeover by the Trump criminals.
But as upsetting as all of that is, guess what? Most of them could skate on justice for their actions because, heck, all they did was break windows and doors, ransack one of our most sacred buildings interrupting the work of one of our most sacred democratic institutions, and killing a Capitol police officer. What’s the harm in that?
These rioters are not hiding evidence of their crimes. They are happy to show the world their criminal acts. Doing selfies and such. There are posts of a guy sitting in Pelosi’s office with his feet up on her desk; another guy who walked out with a speaker’s podium; another office trashed by the riotous crowd.
Who knows what documents they got away with? Who knows what other seditious acts they are planning based on what they stole? And what about the active pipe bombs outside both the headquarters of the Democrat and Republican National Committees?
All this was happening inside what is generally regarded as the most secure building in the country, and arguably, the world, supposedly guarded by the Capitol police.
These Capitol police who we all saw getting pushed around by Trump-inspired looters and thieves were the same police who, in the early days leading up to marijuana legalization in D.C., were extremely vigilant in cracking the heads of marijuana protestors with their batons, zip tying them and throwing them into jail.
They were badass against marijuana protestors who were expressing their first amendment rights, as recalled on a radio program by activist and co-founder of Harborside Cannabis Collective, Steve DeAngelo, who grew up in D.C.: “The U.S. Capitol Police never ever would have even allowed us to get up to the steps of the Capitol, much less to get through the security of the building. We would have been shot dead on site. So it’s really weird to me to see the U.S. Capitol Police allowing this massive invasion of the Capitol, especially by people we already know are armed.”
These thefts at the Capitol during this terrorist assault, this damage, are all federal offenses. These people are felons. Yet there they are on social media, bragging about their felonious acts.
Of the 60-plus people who got arrested that night, a vast majority of them got arrested—and released—for simple curfew violations. As of today, two days after the attack on the Capitol, not one of these felons is sitting in a prison. (UPDATE: as of 7:50 EST, 14 have been charged with federal offenses.)
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Sure, the long arm of the law is making headway finding them, with charges to come of felony destruction of government property, weapons-related offenses, assault, rioting, and more, according to Slate: “These could carry simply fines—or years in prison. In some cases, it will be hard to tell what laws rioters might have broken beyond minor offenses, such as failing to leave the Capitol grounds when ordered by police. Those who breached the Capitol itself are likely to face more severe charges, as are those who assaulted police officers.”
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All their heinous actions, all they did to attack the very democratic buildings and ideals of this country—all that deeply disturbing and flagrant disregard of the rule of law—is apparently nothing compared to nabbing the guy on the corner calmly smoking a joint.. or cracking the heads of a few hippies.. ruining lives in a second because of a simple plant, and layering on serious penalties and consequences.
Until May 21, 2020, in Virginia, you could have gotten fined $500 for possession of marijuana and spent 30 days in jail for a first offense.
But still today in Virginia, even after the 2020 decriminalization efforts, it will cost you $25 if you get busted for marijuana possession. If you are caught with marijuana while driving, that violation will be reported to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, which could subsequently affect your ability to drive, and probably affect your car insurance rate. And, your job.
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In Washington D.C., where recreational marijuana was legalized in 2014, it’s still a misdemeanor to smoke in a public place. You can still be fined $1,000 and thrown in prison for six months for having more than two ounces on you, or arrested if you are consuming while driving or operating a boat.
Consuming marijuana in any of the 18 square miles of federal spaces in the district—or about 29 percent of the city’s total land area—is still forbidden. Get caught on any federal land in the district and you will face a $1,000 fine and 1 year in jail for possession of any amount of marijuana; and a $250,000 fine and five years in prison for selling any amount under 50 kilograms.
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The D.C. police even hedge their warnings, adding that, even though the District of Columbia has decriminalized possession of up to two ounces of marijuana for persons over the age of 21, “federal law continues to prohibit the possession or use of any amount of marijuana. As a result, federal law enforcement officers may arrest anyone in the District of Columbia for possession or use of any amount of marijuana as a violation of federal law.”
Marijuana activists, just like Black Lives Matter activists, see the same sort of double standard here from the assault on the Capitol. Tear up the Capitol as part of a mob trying to overthrow the government, you walk. Smoke or buy marijuana in a quest for personal peace or camaraderie, you are under arrest.
It’s time to fix the flagrant injustice wherever it is. With this Capitol assault, we have just been handed another, more disturbing and far-reaching reason to do that now.