As the cannabis industry continues to expand on the West Coast of the United States, most of the East Coast has yet to reform their outdated laws, leaving residents in fear of consequences and dependent on the black market. But some eastern cities, such as Philadelphia, have taken the reserved approach of decriminalization, lessening the punishment of marijuana possession from jail time to small fines.
The city of Philadelphia decided to decriminalize marijuana exactly two years ago, issuing those caught with 30 grams or less with a $25 citation instead of arresting them. The decision was a small, yet crucial step to getting cannabis medicinally and recreationally legalized in the state of Pennsylvania.
To celebrate the two-year anniversary of decriminalization, activists will hold a “pop-up pot garden” outside of the Philadelphia Art Museum. According to Chris Goldstein, a longtime local advocate and official with the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Thursday’s event is a play on the beer gardens that have become immensely popular in the city of Philadelphia, but will obviously promote cannabis use instead of drinking.
here's a short promo video we made for the #popupweedgarden we are throwing on Thursday at 4pm at the #artmuseum to celebrate two years of marijuana decriminalization in #Philly. Shout out to @mikewhiter for the video skills on multiple levels. #cannabisfreedom #phillypotheads #phillyhighlife #wetalkinboutpractice #popupweedgarden #thepanichour
"We’re joking around on the beer people who drink wherever it seems these days," Goldstein said. "It's a play on that. We’re going to do it just like a beer garden, except this is a BYOW -- bring your own weed."
In addition to the “pop-up pot garden”, the city has also witnessed a new mascot running around the streets. One local activist named N.A. Poe has been running around the city dressed in a marijuana leaf costume, spreading awareness and laughter throughout the City of Brotherly Love. The marijuana leaf mascot has been spotted throughout the city already, and will be parading around at the pro-cannabis event tomorrow, which takes place from 4:20-6:30 PM. Both Poe and Goldstein will also host a press conference at City Hall 1:00 PM, where they will go over statistics on the number of citations issued for small amounts of marijuana.
In a way, Philly has recently become the East Coast home base for cannabis advocacy. Back in July, during the Democratic National Convention, cannabis advocates took the city streets by storm, marching with a 51-foot inflatable joint throughout the area surrounding the event. Despite the slightly vague view of cannabis reform portrayed by the DNC, they still managed to get the legendary rapper and cannabis entrepreneur Snoop Dogg to close out their convention. Now, residents will have the chance join other local tokers at the upcoming “pop-up pot garden”, or even spot the marijuana leaf mascot skipping around town and helping to spread the gospel of cannabis legalization.