Marijuana activists arrested at US Capitol on '4/20' day

Police arrest a woman after she handed out free marijuana joints to DC residents on Capitol Hill as part of the 1st Annual Joint Session to mark "4/20" day and promote legalizing marijuana on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, April 20, 2017 (AFP Photo/SAUL LOEB)

Washington (AFP) - Police arrested seven pro-marijuana activists near the US Capitol on Thursday as they handed out free joints to mark "4/20 day" and highlight their effort to legalize pot.

US Capitol Police (USCP) said three adults were arrested near the Capitol and charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana, while four were charged with possession.

"Under federal law, it is unlawful to possess marijuana," police communications director Eva Malecki said in a statement.

"They were taken to USCP Headquarters for processing."

Among those arrested was Adam Eidinger, co-founder of activist group DCMJ aimed at cannabis law reform in the US capital Washington.

Eidinger was handing out the free joints to DC residents and congressional staff to mark April 20, the day on which pro-marijuana events, known as "4/20" rallies, are held worldwide.

The code 420 is most often used in North America, attributed to a group of young pot-lovers in the 1970s who met up at 4:20 pm.

Although marijuana possession is illegal according to federal law, local law in Washington as of 2015 allows possession of two ounces (56.6 grams) or less of marijuana for people 21 or older, as well as the transfer of up to one ounce.

DCMJ said they arranged the event on "non-federal land" near the corner of 1st St and Constitution Avenue NE, between the US Capitol and Senate office buildings.

"This is 420 legal activity where you give away cannabis in the District of Columbia," Eidinger said, referring to Washington by its formal name.

"On a DC sidewalk it's 100 percent legal," he said, arms handcuffed behind him, in a video of the arrest posted by the Washington Post.

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