PA: Marijuana Activists Plan 'Pop-Up Weed Garden' Event On Art Museum Steps


Have you ever wanted to smoke a joint on the Rocky Steps? Well, you’ll get your chance next week (barring any unforeseen legal or logistical entanglements).

Next Thursday October 20 marks the two-year anniversary of Philadelphia’s legal decriminalization of the possession (and smoking) of small amounts of marijuana.

Its also the two-year anniversary of Mike Whiter a U.S. Marine Corps combat vet who smokes it to stave off post-traumatic stress disorder flare-ups testing that brand-new law to the tune of toking up outside City Hall and getting a $100 citation.

To mark the occasion its considered a turning point of sorts in the local legalization causes narrative marijuana activists N.A. Poe, Chris Goldstein and others plan to host a Pop Up Weed Garden on the steps of a Philadelphia Museum of Art that has nothing to do with the event itself.

Refreshments and snacks provided, reads the announcement for the event, posted to Facebook on Thursday morning, referring to cider and Halloween cookies that Poe plans to bring along.

B.Y.O.W. (Less than 30 grams), it continued, noting a bring-your-own-weed spirit that abides by the reduced-repercussions spirit of the law.

One week before the event which was recently hatched over a joint during a brainstorming session between Goldstein and Poe the latter explained the inspiration and motivation behind it all.

Were latching onto the pop-up craze, a garden party meets [Diner en Blanc], said Poe of a trend thats seen beer gardens surfacing across the city. Philadelphia is such a beautiful city, and the Art Museum is such a well-known spot. We figured itd be a great place for people to gather, hang out and celebrate the anniversary.

Weve allowed so much culture to grow in Philadelphia since decriminalization. The boot came off of our neck after that. Instead of just being happy with the idea that no ones going to get locked up for weed, for us in the pot community, this is going to be our coming out party to a certain extent. Were going to say, Were here as a community, were trying to help the city and do good things. Were not just stoners.’

Poe said he viewed it as a chance to expand the umbrella with a happy hour-type feel that lets people who havent seen their events before stop by and take it all in, whether that involves their lungs or not. They dont see it as a regular event, but rather a chance to help normalize the culture.

If you come [next] Thursday, or have come to our parties [at Connies Ric Rac and other locations], youll see people from all walks of life, he said. An experiment like this might bring out some interesting folks, maybe some more people will say, Hey, Im a cannabis consumer and Im going to hang out publicly and smoke marijuana.

Were in the middle of a culture war. Were coming out, and we want to be accepted. The pot dollar is an amazing resource for businesses in Philadelphia: Food, entertainment, concerts. Businesses that are willing to take the risk at this point are going to reap the rewards. Are we being bold as well? Yes. But were not necessarily ashamed of what were doing. Thats the point. Were doing it because thats who we are. If thats who you are, come join us, but if its not who you are, leave us alone.

At 1 p.m. that day, organizers also plan to hold a press conference urging Mayor Jim Kenney to find a way to get rid of the fine altogether, he said of the $25 fine for possession of less than 30 grams and $100 fine for publicly smoking still on Philadelphias books.

While smoking a joint on the Art Museum steps would put someone at risk of a $100 fine, a Philadelphia Police Department spokesperson declined to say whether theyd monitor the pop-up garden, but noted that officers will be assigned accordingly. (The organizers hadn’t run their plans by museum officials, from whom calls for comment weren’t immediately returned.)

For his part, Mayor Jim Kenney "is largely happy with the results (of marijuana decriminalization) and expects the existing inequities to decrease as we continue to reduce unconstitutional (pedestrian) stops. There will likely be some tweaks to the legislation in order to accommodate the state legislation on medical marijuana," according to spokeswoman Lauren Hitt.

To Poe, this is a chance for Philadelphia where arrests have dropped from 8,580 in 2012 and 2013 to just over 1,500 since the start of 2015 to keep progressively pushing forward.

Three years ago, Im getting tackled on federal property for smoking weed. Three years later, in the same city, were throwing a garden party on the steps of the Art Museum, he said. Im proud of that progress. Im proud of how weve positioned ourselves to change the idea of what a cannabis consumer is. Hopefully, thats emboldened people to be able to stand up for themselves."

He said the point of the event isn’t about brazenly flaunting the law, either.

Were not looking for any confrontation, said Poe, who expects a couple hundred people to attend even if theyre just gawking from afar. As its the two-year anniversary, if they bust us, they look bad. So, Im going to take the anniversary to be as bold as we can because it is a celebration. Were just relying on the hands-off approach, the laissez-fair attitude, that the police and city has had toward marijuana.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Marijuana Activists Plan ‘Pop-Up Weed Garden’ Event On Art Museum Steps
Author: Brian Hickey
Photo Credit: Mike Whiter
Website: Philly Voice