October 22, 2014

Today in Philadelphia: “Smoke Down” Marijuana Prohibition

I am your neighbor and I smoke pot

"I am your neighbor and I smoke pot" sign at PhillyNORML march 2010

Press release – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 12/15/2012
UPDATE: Over 600 have signed up on Facebook

“Smoke Down Prohibition” at Independence Hall

Philadelphia - Landmark victories in Colorado and Washington State have legalized marijuana for adults but prohibition continues for the rest of America. Cannabis and hemp legalization supporters will gather at Independence Hall this Saturday to call for an end to the federal war on marijuana.

Organized by local comedy activism crew The Panic Hour “Smoke Down Prohibition” will feature speeches from political reform groups, including PhillyNORML.

The Panic Hour issued this statement from their production bunker today: “We love marijuana, smoke it daily, and so do millions of other Americans. We are hardworking, taxpaying, cannabis-using Americans not criminals, and we’ll be out in full force at the Liberty Bell this Saturday.”

Participants and supporters are gathering at 5th & Market at 3:30PM with a moment of cannabis reflection promptly at 4:20PM.

The protest site is among The Liberty Bell, The First Presidential Mansion, Independence Hall and the National Constitution Center. The location is designated as “The People’s Plaza,” an area reserved for 1st Amendment demonstrations. Participants will be engaging in clear acts of protest and/or civil disobedience to highlight the failed policy of federal cannabis prohibition.

“Our Constitution; federalism;  the concept of American Liberty were crafted right here,” said PhillyNORML Board member Chris Goldstein, “so this is a good place to ask President Obama and Congress to end this failed policy and legalize cannabis.”

Speakers:

N.A. Poe and Steve Miller-Miller from The Panic Hour; Adam Kokesh from AdamvsTheMan; Chris Goldstein from PhillyNORML; Ken Wolski from The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey (CMMNJ); Colleen Begley NJ marijuana defendant; Vanessa Waltz medical marijuana patient; more speakers may be added.

Those who may be participating in civil disobedience are aware of the following: The National Park Service can issue a citation for marijuana possession. This is usually not a custodial arrest – it is a summons to federal court that can be settled by paying a $175 fine. This only applies to those in possession of a SMALL amount (i.e. a joint) and their legal ID.

EVENT INFORMATION

Event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/551730664843314/

Time: Saturday December 15, 2012 from 3:30PM to 4:35PM

4:20PM – Moment of Cannabis Reflection

Location: 5thSt and Market St Philadelphia

CONTACT: The Panic Hour: thepanichour@gmail.com PhillyNORML media@phillynorml.org

PA Congressional Hopeful Supports Marijuana Reform and Occupy Philadelphia

Marijuana reform signs at Occupy Philadelphia 10/10/2011 - Photo by Chris Goldstein

2/2/2012 - A progressive activist is getting national attention after announcing his run for US Congress in Pennsylvania’s 13th District. Nathan Kleinman, 29, is seeking the Democratic nomination from incumbent Allyson Schwartz. Kleinman has been consistently involved with Occupy Philadelphia on the front lines of many protest actions and in the General Assembly process.

Some of of Kleinman’s talking points as a potential candidate include ending marijuana prohibition and re-thinking the drug war.

A recent Times-Herald article pointed out:

Kleinman said he plans to stump on civil liberties issues, including marriage equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans, and advocates complete decriminalization of marijuana and drug policy reform. He said Schwartz has let down her constituents by being silent on topics that matter. read full

No stranger to politics, Kleinman worked on several high-profile campaigns and did a stint as a legislative assistant for a PA state representative. Still, this is his first run for office.

Freedomisgreen.com caught up with Nate yesterday; he was brimming with excitement while planning the next steps for the campaign. “It was really amazing when  the first people came out to sign the petition…there’s so much support. That’s why we’re going to win this.”

More info at –  http://www.nateforcongress.com/ on Twitter @nateforcongress

 

Read more at Freedomisgreen.com

IMPORTANT - Full Text: Department of Justice Memo on Medical Marijuana

Freedom Buzz

Maryjane’s Corner

Sensible Science

Chris Goldstein is a respected marijuana reform advocate. As a writer and radio broadcaster he has been covering cannabis news for over a decade. Questions?  chris@freedomisgreen.com



Hundreds March In Philadelphia For Marijuana Reform

Saturday May 21st was the only sunny day last week in Philadelphia. The weather was a blessing for the crowd of about 1,000 people who participated in the annual Cannabis Peace March on South Street. PhillyNORML organizes the local demonstration that enjoys one of the best attended marijuana marches in the country. Similar events took place in over 300 cities.

Police and marchers showed mutual respect; there were no incidents or arrests. The message of marijuana legalization rang out in the city where the roots of American government were planted. [Read more...]

Freedomisgreen Sponsoring Philadelphia Freedom Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 5/10/2011

Philadelphia Marijuana Legalization Rally and Concert May 21st on South St

CONTACT: Chris Goldstein media@phillynorml.org 

PhillyNORML’s 2011 marijuana rally expands this year with a benefit concert at the Theatre of the Living Arts on South Street. Participants will meet at 5:00PM on Saturday May 21 at the intersection of Broad and South for the demonstration march. Doors open at the TLA for The Philadelphia Freedom Festival concert at 6:30PM. Tickets are available through LiveNation here.

The Global Cannabis Peace March is an annual event in Philadelphia and over 300 other cities during the month of May. Participants bring awareness to the failed policy of prohibition and call for the full legalization of marijuana. Over 1,000 marchers participated in 2010 with PhillyNORML on South Street. The peaceful and courteous event saw no arrests. On YouTube: http://youtu.be/eI5uPdQpMCg

This year PhillyNORML has partnered with local sponsors and a high-quality group of local musicians for the Philadelphia Freedom Festival concert at the Theater of the Living Arts, a premier venue in the city. Bands include: PsychadelphiaBefore the Accident HappensThe Primate FiascoI Yhan I Arkestra and headliners The Synth Circus. Local activists will deliver speeches throughout the night. A full list of speakers and additional information will follow next week.

PhillyNORML’s volunteers have been instrumental in recent efforts to reform local marijuana laws.

Pennsylvanians for Medical Marijuana (PA4MMJ) is supporting local legislation. State Representative Mark B. Cohen introduced a medical cannabis bill in the Pennsylvania Legislature in 2009. State Senator Daylin Leach re-introduced it as SB 1003 from the 2011 session. This bill would create legal protections for citizens with serious medical conditions to safely access or grow medical marijuana for therapeutic use. It also creates a statewide system if Compassion Centers for patient access.

April 2010 saw the news break on PhillyNORML’s efforts to work with city officials to change local pot procedures when District Attorney Seth Williams announced an easing of minor possession penalties.  The new Small Amount of Marijuana court program was put into practice in June of 2010 and has saved the city millions of taxpayer dollars. The procedure still requires an arrest but stops the criminal prosecution, collects a fine and automatically expunges the arrest once a weekend class is completed.

Over 800,000 pot arrests are performed each year in America with almost 30,000 in Pennsylvania and over 4,500 in Philadelphia. Ninety percent of these arrests are for minor possession.

PhillyNORML advocates for legalizing the regulated, responsible use of marijuana by adults.

CONTACT: Chris Goldstein media@phillynorml.org

ATTENDING: Please arrive at Broad and South no later than 5PM ET Saturday May 21, 2011

CONCERT TICKETS: Available through LiveNation $15 pre-event, $20 at the door

http://www.livenation.com/event/020046A49E2B7BED?artistid=1593008&majorcatid=10001&minorcatid=766

ON FACEBOOK:

Philadelphia Saving Time and Money with New Pot Procedure

PhillyNORML's annual cannabis march on South Street takes place on Saturday May 21, 2011.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office is calling a new set of procedures for minor pot cases a success and plans to continue with the Small Amount of Marijuana (SAM) program.

Last year the Pennsylvania Supreme Court worked with the new DA, Seth Williams, to make a pragmatic change in how the justice system deals with marijuana possession of 30 grams or less. A new program was created that includes a diversion court appearance, an education class and fees of $200. The major difference is that there is no longer an instant criminal prosecution. The offender pleads to a non-drug related charge that is automatically expunged from their record.

In January PhillyNORML’s Chris Goldstein spoke with Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Joe McGettigan about the new marijuana policy. McGettigan said that the SAM program is working, “Look, certainly this was a much better option than sending all these people into the criminal court last year for misdemeanors.”

The DA’s office provided the following figures related to the SAM program:

June 2010 to September 2010

1636 marijuana possession cases less than 30 grams TOTAL

339 bench warrants issued for failure to appear

1297 marijuana possession cases less than 30g are heard

1025 enter the Small Amount of Marijuana diversion program ( 79% )

81 went to trial

187 statuses continued

4 cases withdrawn

The procedural shift has eased penalties and a particularly harsh process for offenders. For the last two decades anyone in Philadelphia who was caught with a single joint on up to 30 grams was held for bail then prosecuted in a criminal court. This involves a tremendous amount of the justice system’s resources and the expensive procedure was almost unique in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

There are over 4,500 such cases in Philly every year (the largest concentration of pot arrests in PA) so minor marijuana offenses were literally clogging holding cells, bail officer, printing machines, court reporters, clerks, judges and courtrooms. The real world cost savings for the city this year by eliminating those expenses could tally into the millions.The shift also made a significant, tactile change; residents who consume marijuana and run afoul of prohibition laws have a less traumatic experience.

PhillyNORML’s Chris Goldstein said, “This was a positive shift for the city. Still minor marijuana possession arrests are increasing and continue a disturbing trend of being extremely racially disparate.”

An average of about 325 black men, 50 black women, 95 white men and 8 white women will be arrested every month this year in Philadelphia.

Read more at Freedomisgreen.com

Philadelphia: Marijuana arrests remain high

Marijuana Smuggler Returning to Philadelphia

Square Grouper - IMDB

Robert Platshorn served the longest sentence for any non-violent marijuana offense in US history: Thirty years in federal prison with no parole. It was all for smuggling tons of pot back in the 1970’s when he went by the name Bobby Tuna. On April 9th Magnolia Pictures will bring Bobby to the Philadelphia Cine Fest for a screening of a new documentary called Square Grouper that tells his story. Platshorn grew up right on South St. and this will mark his first trip back to the area since being released from prison.

PhillyNORML is planning a homecoming for Bob and his family. Details to follow next week. [Read more...]