N.A. Poe Is the Hardest Working Pothead in Philly

Philadelphia's premiere marijuana crusader and former candidate for City Council and attorney general, 37, on incarceration, Lollapalooza ’93, and when he thinks weed will be legal in Pennsylvania.

Illustration by Andy Friedman

Illustration by Andy Friedman

My name is … N.A. Poe. My friends call me Poe.

My real name is … none of your business. I’m a private guy, and I’d like to keep it that way.

I grew up in … Drexel Hill. Graduated from Archbishop Carroll.

Ten years ago, I was … a fine-dining waiter without much direction.

The last time I got arrested … was by the feds in 2013, at a pot protest at the Liberty Bell. I got one year of probation.

If you’re coming for dinner, I’ll probably make … gravy and meatballs.

These days, I spend most of my time … in meetings and smoking marijuana. I might go from a big party to meetings with City Council to a porn convention. People think that people who get stoned don’t do shit. I work 16-hour days.

My favorite strain right now is … Strawberry Diesel. It’s a nice, light front-of-the-head high that allows you to work. Some people use pot to unwind. I use it as fuel.

The best part about living in South Philly … is the wonderful mom-and-pop businesses that have been here for generations and that will never be pushed out by gentrification. And also the old Italian ladies sitting on their stoops.

The first concert I ever attended was … Lollapalooza in 1993 at JFK Stadium, with Alice in Chains and Rage Against the Machine. That’s the one where Rage stood naked onstage with tape over their mouths and “PMRC” written on their bodies in protest of the Tipper Gore censorship thing. I’m glad I went. I feel like that gave me a chip on my shoulder that worked out well for me.

Pot will be legal in Pennsylvania by … 2020. Then again, I thought we’d be in flying cars by then.

The last book I read cover to cover was … Secret Life: Firsthand Documented Accounts of UFO Abductions. It’s by David Jacobs, from Temple University.

If you’re pouring me a drink, make it a … Bulleit bourbon, neat. Or Laphroaig, I mean, if you’re buying.

My parents are always telling me … that they’re proud of me. I went from a misguided youth to where a lot of my rebellion was streamed into something that actually made an impact. They are the kind of people who always told me whatever I wanted to do, I would do well. It just took me a lot longer to figure out what that was.

In 10 years … I hope to have saved enough money to build a cabin in the woods with really great wi-fi. And one day, I’d like to be mayor of this town. If they can elect an Irish guy from 2nd Street, they can elect a dago from Drexel Hill.

The best thing on TV these days … is Black Mirror, a kind of technological version of The Twilight Zone. It shows the dark side of technology. As we become connected via the Internet, we grow less connected as humans, and no other show is showing the long-term implications of that.

My preferred method of marijuana ingestion is … a big old doobie. I’m old-

When I want a cheesesteak, I go to … Tap Room on 19th. They do a wagyu beef cheesesteak with this house-made cheese sauce. That’s the only time I’ll eat a cheesesteak. God, I sound like a fucking yuppie.

Published as “One of Us” in the December 2016 issue of Philadelphia magazine.