PhillyNORML announces new Board of Directors; Smoke Down Prohibition 8

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 8/27/2013

PhillyNORML – Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

CONTACT: Chris Goldstein or Mike Whiter media@phillynorml.org or 267 702 3731

PhillyNORML announces new Board of Directors; Smoke Down Prohibition 8

PHILADELPHIA, PA — PhillyNORML is pleased to announce a successful re-organization of the Board ahead of a busy fall season of marijuana reform events and legislative activity.

Chris Goldstein and Mike Whiter were elected as Co-Chairs of PhillyNORML. Both have been active in in the chapter and the cannabis legalization effort across Pennsylvania.

“Right now we have bills in Harrisburg for compassionate access and full marijuana legalization along with a massive majority of public opinion on our side,” said Goldstein and long-time advocate. “Still, Philadelphia sees the most number of pot arrests in the Commonwealth. We have a particularly harsh and expensive policy with a racially biased outcome, so PhillyNORML is also pushing harder for local reforms.”

Mike Whiter is a US Marine veteran who saw active duty in Kosovo and Iraq. Mike also chairs Pennsylvania Veterans for Medical Marijuana. “I will tirelessly continue to advocate for this alternative medication. Too many of our military veterans are being turned into addicts by the Veterans Affairs medical system and harmful narcotic pharmaceuticals.”

Goldstein and Whiter dove right into their work by attending the second local meeting between Philly cannabis activists and cops. On Monday August 26th a “pizza summit” convened at The Gallery Mall with SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel III and Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan. The unlikely but incredibly cordial meetings began as a “donut summit” in July so both sides could address concerns about a regular marijuana protest rally. The meet-up has also evolved into an ongoing conversation about local cannabis policy.

“Smoke Down Prohibition” returns for the eighth month on Saturday August 31, 2013 from 3:30PM-4:45PM at The People’s Plaza on 5th&Market streets. In sight of the Liberty Bell, the event is supported by PhillyNORML and local comedy activism crew The Panic Hour. Featuring speeches by local advocates and a “moment of cannabis reflection” at 4:20PM, the gathering focuses on ending federal marijuana prohibition.SDPVIII promo video – youtu.be/3mP4wNxnQf8

On April 20, 2013 more than 400 hundred people lit marijuana joints in an act of civil disobedience. Following that large gathering more than a hundred National Park Service Rangers, Philadelphia Police, US Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Homeland Security officers moved in on the event in May and June.

N.A. Poe of The Panic Hour was arrested at the May 18th Smoke Down Prohibition and remains banned from park property. Current PhillyNORML Co-Chairs Mike Whiter and Chris Goldstein were issued citations in June. The July event featured a mellower police presence: Whiter and Goldstein led the countdown to 4:20 once again, but this time they were not cited.

Since December of 2012 more than 1,500 people have protested federal marijuana laws by smoking marijuana at The People’s Plaza. About 20 citations have been issued.

PhillyNORML is also gearing up for several major events in September:

  • The Hemp Heals Music Festival on September 7th at Penn’s Landing where PhillyNORML will provide speakers on stage and information tables in the crowd.
  • The Boston Freedom Rally on September 14-15 on the Boston Common where PhillyNORML will join chapters from around the country the largest marijuana reform rally on the East Coast. More than 50,000 are expected each day; PhillyNORML will have a tent and members will be speaking on stage.
  • Smoke Down Prohibition 9 on September 21 may be the first to include local politicians giving speeches to the crowd

PhillyNORML also plans regular fundraising efforts, citizen lobbying days in Harrisburg and weekly press releases to begin in September.

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: Chris Goldstein or Mike Whiter media@phillynorml.org or 267 702 3731 

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