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Evan Parke, Founder

* DC & IL
(202) 719-5326

MAY 5, 2017



My name is Jessica Laycock. I am a paid cannabis lobbyist. I believe in the righteousness of a

cause that is supported by most Americans but is opposed by many in power. This makes me dangerous

to them, although I am peaceful and do not break laws to convey my message. Yet abiding by the law

does not immunize me from a wrongful arrest during these political times. I found that out on Thursday,

April 20th, 2017. That day I was arrested in Washington, D.C., during a pro-cannabis event organized

by DCMJ called the Congressional Joint Session, which was designed to raise greater legislative

support for cannabis.

I was targeted by U.S. Capitol Police who apparently were intent on making a political point.

They arrested me while I was being interviewed by a CNN reporter. They did the same to six others.

They sought to silence our voice and change the dialogue in front of the cameras, notwithstanding our

First Amendment right to speak to the media during a lawful rally. They succeeded in some regard.

Many stories focused on the arrests. We were painted as wrongdoers. Just another batch of protestors

causing problems, some may have said after reading the articles. No articles spoke about our unlawful

arrest and detention.

I was arrested at approximately 1 p.m. that day. I was the third of seven to be arrested from

DCMJ. The U.S. Capitol Police said I was being arrested for distribution, but we clearly were not

selling cannabis to others or breaking any drug laws. They also said we were on federal land where it is

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illegal to possess cannabis, but we clearly were on D.C. property, where possession of cannabis in the

amounts at issue is lawful.

We were never read out Miranda rights. They did not intend on prosecuting us. But that did not

stop them from treating us as criminals. After being seized, the U.S. Capitol Police manhandled us onto

federal property while the public booed and the media asked questions. We were hogtied with zip-straps,

pushed into police cars and carted off to the Capitol Police holding site, where I was ordered to spread

for further searching. Later we were taken to the central cell block on Indiana Avenue, adjoining the

D.C. Superior Court. There they took mugshots and fingerprints. By 8 p.m. on Thursday evening we

were fully processed. Later Thursday night they herded us into filthy, roach-infested and stifling-hot cell

blocks where we slept on metal platforms with no pad, pillow or blanket. The metal platforms were

unclean and left bruises on my body. I stripped down to my underwear due to the heat and to use my

clothes and shoes as a pillow.

At 7 a.m. on Friday morning, U.S. Marshalls woke us up, zip-tied us together and walked us to a

room where we sat with no food or water, with ankles shackled, until 4:30 p.m. Then, at 5:00 p.m. on

Friday, we were released. With no charges. Twenty-eight hours after our unlawful arrest. Perhaps the

Administration had accomplished its goals by this point: interfere with a peaceful protest, squelch the

voice of those brave enough to speak to the media about an issue viewed as extremely important to

many Americans, intimidate us from advocating for greater acceptance of cannabis by members of


Yet this movement is larger than the collective voice of those arrested. It is embedded in a shared

idea found in the minds of people across the nation. False arrests do not distance people from ideas they

hold sacred. Rather, a false arrest can be a defining moment that deepens the desire for social change. It

causes an idea to grow over the long term, not shrink. This new Administration may not understand that.

Like the paltry excuses provided by the U.S. Capitol Police for not returning the property they took from

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me after being arrestedthey say these items (valued at more than $500) are in evidence, though

there is no pending case against methe new Administrations rationale for keeping cannabis illegal

falls flat and is not substantiated by reality.

The U.S. Capitol Police appears to have made politically charged arrests to send a message. But

this attempt at intimidation will backfire. We will not back down, and our movement continues to grow

in numbers and in strength.

Jessica Laycock was born and raised in the Castro district of San Francisco, California. She has
interned for U.S. Senator Paul Strauss (DC), for the Human Rights Watch in Brussels, Belgium, and for
the International Conservation Caucus Foundation in Washington, D.C. She presently serves as a
lobbyist for DCMJ. In 2013 she graduated from Whittier College in Southern California with a BA in
Political Science and Spanish, and is in the process of completing the Public Diplomacy program at
Syracuse University, where she will earn an MS in Public Relations and an MA in International
Relations in May of 2017.

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