Pot Is Coming, Philadelphia!

Photography by Clint Blowers

Photography by Clint Blowers

It’s a Saturday morning a few months ago. I’m in Atlantic City, sitting on a folding chair in a medium-size conference room at Bally’s, along with maybe 75 other bleary-eyed semi-note-takers. I’m here for day one of a four-day horticultural seminar — cost: $995 — in which the only plant that will be discussed is marijuana. The event is being run by Oaksterdam University, a college in Oakland, California, that behaves like it’s in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. (Sample course — “Methods of Ingestion: Vaporizing 8701.”) Oaksterdam, founded in 2007, has only been raided by federal agents once.

Among the first speakers is a handsome young New York lawyer named Adam Scavone who specializes in deconstructing the incomprehensible mishmash of local, state and federal laws that govern pot consumption in this country. “Let me ask you a question,” Scavone begins. “Are there any law enforcement officers in the room?” Four very silent seconds pass. “All right, good. That doesn’t mean there’s not. So just keep this in mind. We don’t know who might be here.”

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The 11 People Leading the Charge for Legal Pot in Philadelphia

The Politicians

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Photos: Senate of Pennsylvania (Leach); Will Connelly (Kenney)


Two local politicians — er, pot-iticians? — stand at the forefront of the movement. State Senator Daylin Leach (left) has co-sponsored legislation in Harrisburg both to legalize medical marijuana — a bill that passed the Senate — and to legalize pot outright. (See Leach’s hilarious appearance at ThinkFest below.) City Councilman Jim Kenney (center) has recently fashioned himself into a millennial folk hero, championing gay-rights legislation and marijuana decriminalization that saw passage in September. Michael Bronstein (right), of the Bala Cynwyd political consultancy Bronstein & Weaver, is helming a nascent pot lobby called the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp, designed to persuade states to pass cannabusiness-friendly legislation.

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WATCH: 3 Grandmas Smoke Pot For the First Time

Cut Video found three grandmothers in Washington (where marijuana is legal) who had never smoked pot before and persuaded them to do it on camera. What results, naturally, is hilarious. And they get blasted—smoking from a bong, a vaporizer, and sipping on marijuana-infused tea.

Check out the video above for unforgettable quotes like, “I could go iron for days now,” and “I’d do it again … if I could get this bag of chips open.”

90 Pounds of Pot Sent to 69th Street City Blue to Be Destroyed

An unknown person shipped 90 pounds of marijuana to the 69th Street City Blue, Upper Darby police said. The reefer was shipped to the store with a name of someone who doesn’t work there.

“When I opened the boxes and looked inside there was no men’s clothing,” the City Blue manager told NBC 10. “It was marijuana.”

Police said the 90 pounds of marijuana was worth about $3,000 a pound. Average drug prices put an average pound of pot in Philadelphia at $800 to $1,500.

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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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