Meet Mike Whiter, Recipient of Philly’s First Marijuana Citation

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As of this morning, Philadelphia is the largest city in the country to decriminalize marijuana. You’ll now receive a $100 fine for smoking in public and a $25 for possession of up to 30 grams — but you will not be arrested. Pot advocate Mike Whiter called dibs on the first marijuana citation weeks ago, and today, he promptly lit up a joint in City Hall’s courtyard at 8 a.m. with police by his side. One quick puff and one handwritten ticket later, Whiter was the happiest man to pay a municipal fine I’ve ever seen.

On the eve of his marijuana citation, I sat down with Whiter to understand the motivation behind the ceremony, what led to him founding Pennsylvania Veterans for Medical Marijuana, and why he thinks marijuana can help millions with PTSD.

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Mayor Nutter Reminds Citizens Not to Smoke Anything in Parks

Mayor Michael Nutter signed Philadelphia’s new marijuana policy into effect earlier this week. Though it won’t start until October 20th, the mayor tweeted this morning to remind everyone that smoking in public is still illegal.

And, well, that smoking anything in a public park is illegal, too.

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Mayor Nutter Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

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Starting October 20th, possession of small amounts of marijuana will be a civil offense in the city of Philadelphia.

Mayor Michael Nutter signed Jim Kenney’s marijuana decriminalization bill in a ceremony at City Hall today. It goes into effect later this month.

This isn’t legalization, but most possession offenses have been turned into fines. Those possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana will be cited and fined $25. Those smoking in public will be cited and fined $100, or made to perform nine hours of community service. Cops will also confiscate any weed they find. Thirty grams is just a little over an ounce; most pot smokers make purchases of only an eighth of an ounce or less at once.

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Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Bill Doesn’t Go Far Enough

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It seemed like a victory on Wednesday when the Pennsylvania Senate passed a medical marijuana bill. It passed the Senate by a wide margin, 43-7. But the truth is it doesn’t go far enough. Before it was passed, the bill was gutted by amendment — senators removed a host of conditions medical marijuana could have been used for.

“We don’t want to give off the impression that this is a whole victory,” Dana Ulrich, whose daughter has intractable epilepsy that medical marijuana could help, told The Patriot-News. “There are patients all over Pennsylvania who are still going to be ignored if this becomes law.”

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Penn Continuing Marijuana Ban Despite City Decriminalization

penn-pot-shield Despite the City of Philadelphia’s law decriminalizing marijuana possession expected to take effect next month, the University of Pennsylvania has no plans to change its policy toward pot use on campus. Sorry, Penn kids: You’ll still have to look over your shoulder when you light up at the Biopond.

Philadelphia’s new pot laws will be a $25 fine for possession, and a $100 fine or community service for smoking in public. Penn won’t tweak its on-campus pot ban, because it says doing so would put its federal funding in jeopardy. The federal government requires Penn to continue punishing students for marijuana use and possession, Penn says, or the university would be at risk for losing research and financial aid money. Another place one can smoke on Penn’s campus but will have to be worried about is in the little nook between the art school and the communications building.

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It’s the End of the War on Drugs as We Know It

Kids, gather round. Let me share with you the horrors of my youth.

Behold:

And:

Back in the 1980s, these commercials were on a near-constant loop — especially on Saturday mornings and any other times kids might be watching TV. It was a steady drumbeat: Don’t do drugs. Don’t do drugs. Don’t do drugs. Don’t do drugs. Somehow, people kept doing drugs.

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Council Passes Tweaked Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

Marijuana decriminalization is one step closer to reality.

City Council today approved a revised decriminalization bill aimed at ending arrests for possession of small amounts of pot. Instead, offenders would be issued a $25 ticket — and have their stash destroyed on the spot, potentially. Persons caught smoking in public would be fined $100, but could erase that fine with community service.
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In Praise of Mayor Nutter

Michael Nutter

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Mayor Nutter did a good thing this week.

Really. His decision to come to an accommodation with Councilman Jim Kenney on pot decriminalization will have widespread benefits in Philadelphia. It will save thousands of otherwise-law-abiding young men and women from an arrest record in their future. It might save some dough at the police department. And it’s probably good for his legacy: In 10 years, almost nobody will remember that he fought Kenney to nearly the last possible moment; they’ll just remember that he was the Philadelphia mayor who signed the decriminalization bill.

He even tweaked the bill in a way that improves it: By adding a $100 fine for smoking pot in public, Nutter moved to ensure that pot use will be a closed-doors activity rather than one for the street corners.  Nobody has to worry about young men smoking weed out in front of a grandmother’s stoop anymore.

Good job, Mayor Nutter! You’re going to get kudos and you deserve them!

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