LISTEN: Chief Philadelphia Public Defender Slams Racial Disparities in Marijuana Arrests

Keir Bradford-Grey

The latest episode of Pushback, the podcast co-produced by Philly Mag and WURD, is now available. Listen and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, or check it out below.

When progressive billionaire George Soros tried to lure Keir Bradford-Grey into running for district attorney in Philadelphia earlier this year, she passed up the opportunity. Bradford-Grey had unfinished business in her current role: The chief defender at the Philadelphia Defenders Association is also a self-described activist who, in her own words, is hell-bent on reducing racial bias in the criminal-justice system.

“I am never going to be OK with people being oppressed by this system and being marginalized. That will never sit well with me. … It’s not in my DNA,” says Bradford-Grey on the most recent episode of Pushback, a social-justice podcast available on iTunes that’s produced by Philadelphia magazine and WURD Radio. Pushback profiles those in Philly — and beyond — who push back on oppression, injustice, and inequity. Read more »

Senate Bill Would Make Weed Legal in New Jersey

iStockphoto.com | cheche22

A Democratic senator has introduced a bill that would make recreational marijuana use legal in New Jersey.

Sen. Nicholas Scutari is behind a bill that, if passed, would allow weed to be grown, sold and taxed in the Garden State. The senator – who’s attempted to pass a similar bill before – wants New Jersey to join the eleven states that have legalized recreational use of the drug.

The bill stands virtually no chance of making it past Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who has called supporters of marijuana legalization “crazy liberals” who wants to “poison our kids,” according to PoliticoRead more »

Poll: More Than Half of Pa. Voters Want to Legalize Weed

Image via Pixabay.

More than half of Pennsylvania voters – 56 percent – want to legalize marijuana, according to a new survey from Franklin & Marshall College.

According to the poll, support for marijuana legalization is at an all-time high in Pennsylvania. In 2006, when F&M first surveyed Pa. voters on the topic, just 22 percent of participants supported legalization.

Here’s how support breaks down along party lines, per the poll: 75 percent of independent voters are in favor of legalization, 65 percent percent of Democrats are in favor, and 44 percent of Republicans support legalization. Across the board, support has grown drastically since 2015, when the poll found that about 40 percent of Pennsylvania voters supported legalization.  Read more »

Sure, Legalize Pot — but Stop Pretending It’s Harmless

na-poe-pot-party-raided-by-police-in-philly

Photo by Victor Fiorillo

Philadelphia is awash in marijuana smoke. Take the Frankford El or the Broad Street Subway and the smell floods your nostrils. Walk downtown and the smell hits you like tear gas from phantom SWAT teams. Sit in Rittenhouse Square and the smell once again inundates your nostrils, only this time you detect a slight smell of skunk.

We are a city of potheads, but is that something to be proud of? Read more »

NA Poe Hires Chuck Peruto, Who Says Poe Was “Face, Not Brains” of Pot Party

Left: Criminal defense attorney Chuck Peruto in a publicity photo. Right: NA Poe aka Richard Tamaccio in his Philadelphia Police Department mugshot.

Left: Criminal defense attorney Chuck Peruto in a publicity photo. Right: NA Poe, aka Richard Tamaccio, in his Philadelphia Police Department mugshot.

Well, the case surrounding NA Poe‘s raided pot party just got a little more interesting. Poe, whose real name is Richard Tamaccio, has retained Chuck Peruto, Philly’s highest-profile criminal defense attorney, best known for his representation of deranged killer Gary Heidnik, folks like Joey Merlino, and that guy who improbably found $1.2 million on the street. We spoke with Peruto to find out how he plans to get Poe off the hook. Read more »

Kenney: Pennsylvania Should Just Legalize Weed Already

kenney, weed

On Saturday, Philadelphia police arrested 22 people at a pot party held by marijuana activist NA Poe – proving that the war on drugs is alive and well in Philly.

This morning, Mayor Jim Kenney stopped just short of criticizing the bust when he called it “overkill” and said that the “real solution to this is legalizing [marijuana] in the state of Pennsylvania as they did in Colorado,” according to Philly.com.

At Poe’s Northeast Philly warehouse party on Saturday, Police arrested 19 men and three women, confiscated 50 pounds of marijuana, about $50,000 in cash, several handguns and about 100 pounds of cannabis edibles. About 200 people were detained.

The event functioned as a sort of pop-up market where people could buy and sell various marijuana products. Poe, whose real name is Richard Tamaccio, told Philadelphia magazine’s Victor Fiorillo that he and his girlfriend, Rachael Friedman, sold about 300 tickets to the party, which cost attendees $50 each. They’ve both been charged with seven counts, including possession with intent to deliver; possession of a controlled substance; possession of an instrument of crime; use or possession of drug paraphernalia; conspiracy; causing or risking catastrophe; and recklessly endangering another person. Poe is being held on $250,000 bail.

Marijuana has been decriminalized in Philly since 2014. Kenney worked with Poe and Chris Goldstein (a fellow weed activist who was detained on Saturday) to draft the legislation, which largely applies to those who are caught with less than 30 grams of marijuana.

Following a press conference this morning, Kenney said that while “clearly, it’s illegal to sell [larger] quantities … there was probably another way” to crack down on the pot party “as opposed to the amount of resources that were put into this, especially considering our ongoing relationship with that community,” according to PhillyVoice.

Kenney reportedly said he doesn’t “micromanage the police department” and that he wasn’t aware of plans to raid the party. He noted that the event was also deemed a fire and safety hazard for several reasons – officials with the Department of Licenses and Inspections were also present at the bust.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.

NA Poe Arrest Shows the War on Drugs Is Alive and Well in Philadelphia

NA Poe aka Richard Tamaccio and Rachael Friedman in their Philadelphia Police Department mugshots.

NA Poe aka Richard Tamaccio and Rachael Friedman in their Philadelphia Police Department mugshots.

The last time I saw cannabis crusader NA Poe on Saturday night, he was busy attending to the details of his big pot party going down in the Frankford section of Northeast Philadelphia. Two days later, he’s trying to get together $25,000 of the $250,000 bail that’s been set in a criminal case against him. Read more »

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