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  • September 19 2013

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    PhillyNORML and The Panic Hour Return to the Liberty Bell for Smoke Down Prohibition IX

    ssdp9The monthly protest of draconian federal cannabis laws continues in front of the Liberty Bell with the ninth Smoke Down Prohibition Rally on Saturday September 21st.

    PhillyNORML, comedy activism crew The Panic Hour and marijuana legalization advocates from around the country will peacefully gather at 5th& Market Streets on The People’s Plaza at Independence Mall National Historic Park to seek redress from our United States government.

    Speeches will begin at 3:30PM with scheduled speakers: Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate John Hanger, PA medical marijuana advocate Louanne Speese-Stanley, registered New Jersey medical marijuana patient Rowyn Capers, NJ medical marijuana activist Jim Miller, PhillyNORML Co-Chairs Mike Whiter and Chris Goldstein along with some light comedy and acoustic music.

    The rally comes just after organizers received information on the costs of the police presence at previous events:

    In April 2013, the last “Smokedown” event held without police interaction, the cost of overtime for National Park Service Police totaled $1,522.43. The very next month, when NPS Police decided to start making arrests, costs increased to $5,350.62 worth of overtime. Keep in mind these events last generally from 2 to 3 hours at most.

    On June 30th, 2013 the Park Service decided for reasons unknown to dramatically up their presence and brought in even more police, some dressed in full riot gear. On this date, the cost of overtime combined with travel expenses shot up to an astounding $21,563.64. Over twenty-thousand dollars were wasted to police a group of peaceful pot smokers, expressing their right to petition the government and engage in free speech.

    However, the costs are barely even scratching the surface. On June 30th, multiple police agencies were present in sizeable numbers. Among the NPS Park Police were the Department of Homeland Security Police, Philadelphia Police Department, SEPTA Police, and the US Fish & Wildlife Services. Also present in June, and at every event held since, was Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Goldberg. It would be interesting to know how much a U.S. Attorney gets paid to stand around and watch potheads get ticketed on a weekend.

    These are the costs for just one of the agencies present. Future FOIA requests are forthcoming to determine exactly how much was spent in total across all the agencies involved. However we do know how much the NPS earned for their $20k+ investment in June, roughly $1700. Only 10 citations were made at that event, some of which have since been thrown out.

    Source: The Daily Chronic

    You can RSVP to Smoke Down Prohibition IX, being held this Saturday in Philadelphia, by clicking here.

    John Hanger, candidate for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania Governor and scheduled speaker, commented on the police activity stating that it is a “ridiculous use of federal resources … it makes no sense whatsoever to have that kind of law enforcement present at a peaceful protest.”

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