Following Capitol Attack, Maryland Democrats Demand Cannabis Reform Enemy Andy Harris Resign

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Undeterred by the previous day’s attack on the Capitol where Trump supporters destroyed property, stole objects, and killed one police officer and injured many more, Maryland Representative—and well-known enemy for cannabis reform—Andy Harris continued making claims of election fraud on the House Floor, yelling and punching his fists in the air early in the morning on Thursday, Jan. 7.

Despite there being a clear lack of evidence for these claims, Harris said there was evidence: “Evidence? The Pennsylvania Supreme Court unilaterally extended the deadline to receive absentee and mail-in ballots,” Harris said. 

Harris was one of 138 House Republicans who voted to challenge Pennsylvania’s electoral votes and one of 121 who voted to challenge Arizona’s votes. Early in the morning, not even 24 hours after the attack on the Capitol, Harris also got into a screaming match on the House floor with Democratic Representative Colin Allred of Texas.

“‘Are you serious, man?” Allred asked Harris on the floor. “Haven’t you had enough violence for today?’”

In response to Harris’ vote and behavior, some residents in Bel Air, MD, which is in Harris’ district, gathered to protest their representative’s vote. Additionally, Maryland Democrats called for Harris to resign.

“Even after repeated result certification and dismissal by even the most conservative of judges, Representative Harris continued to spout the President’s lies. Yesterday, we saw the results of their inflammatory rhetoric and blatant falsehoods. A terrorist mob stormed our Capitol a the behest of the President,” the statement reads in part. “The Republican members of Congress who instigated this violence—including Representative Harris—are complicit in this attempted insurrection. They have blood on their hands.”

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, appeared on CNN on Sunday, Jan. 10 and said that he blamed Trump for the Capitol attack and that he was “extremely outraged” by Harris’ behavior. Hogan however, dodged the question as to whether Harris should resign.

In November, Harris defeated Democratic opponent Mia Mason, a pro-cannabis progressive. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) gave Mason a “A” grade. Harris meanwhile, has been given an “F” by NORML.

Harris is best known for his role in preventing Washington D.C. even after residents voted for legalization from establishing its own regulated, commercial cannabis industry due to “the Harris Rider.” More recently, Harris attempted to prevent the decriminalization of plant-based psychedelics (before D.C. even voted for it). And although Harris was a sponsor of the the Medical Marijuana Research Act, a bill that will make it much easier for researchers to study cannabis and receive medical-grade cannabis from state growers (along with federal growers which is currently accepted), his argument is primarily that he supports it because he believes the research will show cannabis is not particularly “helpful.”

“As a physician, I believe it’s going to show it’s really not helpful in a whole lot of diseases,”  Harris told Rolling Stone. “And in fact what will be shown to be helpful—as has been [shown] in a lot of the diseases where it’s useful—are actually not the whole marijuana plant but purified components of marijuana, like CBD or THC.”

Additionally, Harris has downplayed the threat of COVID-19, participating in “ReOpen Maryland” protests last year.

In response to all of this criticism, Harris released a statement that continued to perpetuate the baseless claim that there were problems with the election results which unequivocally showed Joe Biden won the election. Harris’ statement also establishes a false equivalency between Democrats who questioned the 2017 results and Republicans who have spent 2020 claiming without evidence that Biden did not win—claims that fueled last week’s attack. 

“I have routinely and consistently rejected violent protests, whether in the case of yesterday, or last summer.  Democrats are calling for unity, yet also calling for the expulsion of Members who objected in yesterday’s Electoral College count.  Today, some Marylanders are even calling for my resignation, which I will not do.  My colleagues and I held legitimate Constitutional concerns about how the November election was conducted in certain states and felt compelled to highlight those concerns during the formal vote count. We did not call for the overthrowing of an election,” Harris said. “Joe Biden will be President on January 20th.  Some of my colleagues, including those still in the Maryland delegation, offered objections in 2017 when counting the electoral votes for President Trump.  Congress is afforded the right to count, and object, to electoral votes, which we utilized yesterday to highlight concerns we had regarding the November election.  There was nothing treasonous or seditious about it in 2017, nor this year.”

On Monday, 71 Maryland Delegates and 13 State Senators signed onto a letter demanding Harris resign.

“We the undersigned members of the Maryland General Assembly, believe that you have disgraced yourself, your state, and your country. We have heard from constituents who would like us to pass a resolution of censure against you,” the letter reads in part. “As our censure process is reserved for members of our body we are not able to do so. But we add our voices to the chorus of your constituents who have called for you to resign.”

Photo by lev radin via Shutterstock

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