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

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director September 19, 2013

    The 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.”

    19 responses to “PhillyNORML and The Panic Hour Return to the Liberty Bell for Smoke Down Prohibition IX”

    1. phrtao says:

      Considering how public opinion is changing (see other news bulletins on this site) the monthly liberty bell protests seem increasingly counter productive. You risk offending the ultra conservative people who are just starting to support your cause. Have a rally but may be avoid provocative locations like the liberty bell or if you must protest there restrict yourselves to banners and speeches rather than smoking. Marijuana needs to drop it’s association with protest, counter culture and (so called) ‘un-American activities’ in the minds of those who still oppose you – this will not help to achieve that goal.

      If you really want to have public respect then get involved in the community and do something positive that will raise the status of marijuana users and dispel the old caricatures.

    2. lockedoutofmyshed says:

      phrtao, well said! rebellion cannot help now that the tide seems to be turning. to show the responsible side of cannabis will find more favor with non users then portraying the old stigma…really something to think about people….THINK …..you all who do not give a damm what people think, ill tell you something, you and i NEED those people to understand that cannabis is the ultimate choice over the likes of alcohol and harder life sucking drugs that are rampant in this world.that used responsibily,can create a realm of peace and comfort as well as all around happiness in peoples lives. that is what it has done for me for 32 years of my life. their is nothing wrong with some help to ‘hone’ the sometimes sharp edge of life with no fear of addiction. so, think about givin a damm about what people think while you get your point across about the good in cannabis….good day to you all..

    3. With The “Feds warn of serious penalties” on eve of ninth pot rally at Independence Hall In Philly. If The FEDS are stupid enough to go “Hard Core Federal Charges” on a bunch of simple peaceful pot smokers, “Standing Up On Their Soap Box” & Defending Their Rights To Free Speech!

      That We Are Doing No Difference Then Our Founding Fathers Did When Speaking Out Against The British Rules,& Speaking For The Rights Of A Free Country “That Piece Of Paper Inside Independence Hall. Assures Us The Rights Of All FREE AMERICANS! To Assemble In A Public Location & Air Our Grievances!

      Let Them Send In The SWAT Team & Riot Control Police, Against Peaceful Protesters..?

      Then We Can & Will Keep Lining Up waiting For Our Turn To Be Arrested & Charged With Federal Crimes! I have “No Problem At All!” Of Going To Jail For A Good Cause, With A Peaceful Civil Disobedience Protest!

      In Fact I Consider It My God Given Right As “An American” To Stand Up & Publicly Say “THIS IS WROUNG!”

      I Live In Maine! & I Am A Legal Maine State Medical Marijuana Patient, As Well As A Maine State ID’d Medical Marijuana Legal Caregiver.

      Every State North Of Penn State Is Now a 100% Legal Medical Marijuana State! & Guess What Penn State..? YOUR STATE IS NEXT! You Can Go Peaceful? Or Kicking & Screaming? But Either Way You Will Still End Up There!

      Your 80+ Years Of BULLSH*T LIES Are Over!

      I Will Be There For Smoke-in #10, Regretfully There Is Not Enough Time For Me To Make It To SmokeDown #9.

      Chris Kenoyer
      A Proud Cannabis Warrior!

      Follow Us Now On Twitter @ MedicalMMJMan

      Or Follow Us On Facebook @




    4. Brother says:

      Well stated “Phrtao”…Time to grow up if you want to smoke it up.

    5. Anonymous1 says:

      While I admire NORML’s push for legalization and can’t wait for Va to finally jump on board, gathering on public property for the use of cannabis is still a felony. Not a very good way to present a peaceful protest.

      Black market cartels break rules to be able to smuggle. NORML is suggesting break rules to show a “peaceful protest”. 1 step forward to take 2 in reverse. Not like you guys NORML.

      [Editor’s note: It will probably surprise you that one of the top email requests to the organization in the form of suggested activism (NORML receives and answers over 1,500 emails daily) is for cannabis consumers to do more than just lobby their elected officials, they very often want Gandhi-like, Martin Luther King-inspired acts of civil disobedience to both attract media attention and draw out examples of the excessiveness by government trying to maintain an untenable status quo.

      When these activists gathered in Philly over the previous decades asking for reform of cannabis laws, the media and political elite didn’t take any notice. Now that some self-sacrificing activists who want to force the issue in PA are organized–where the three branches of government will NOT provide any legal relief from prohibition laws–they’re fostering a needed public discussion where there was none before.

      NORML has over a 140 state affiliates and local chapters and they’ve the autonomy to choose the degree of activism that they think best works for them.

      Indeed, a ‘National Turn Yourself In Day’ is one of the top activism requests received @ NORML.]

    6. Mark I says:

      LEO is present to serve and protect. They were worried about the droves of antiprotesters and their violent tendencies towards peaceful protests. At least that is what the tax payers are led to believe.

    7. Anonymous1 says:

      Fostering a needed public discussion is one thing, but putting yourself in jail will do no good because then you’re playing into their (prohibition’s) hands, limiting your own productivity, and smearing your own future record.

      Let’s look at how this prohibition started to get a further insight as to what I’m mentioning.

      Back in the Reagan administration, it was determined cannabis was addictive based on the records of how many arrestees would choose “rehab” over a civil fine. Based on that number, it was concluded it was a dangerous drug, and that it was a substance that does harm to society.

      Now, to look at this protest, what I’m seeing is, “We know it’s illegal to possess and consume cannabis on gov’t property, but we’re going to do it anyway for the sake of protest.”

      Ignorance is not bliss, and in fact may bite you in the ass rather than help to further everyone’s goal of responsible use of legal cannabis.

    8. Dave Evans says:

      These protests are perfect! People talk about it not being right, but it is right or correct if you will. These folks are doing nothing wrong, so why play along with the crazy prohibitionists? “Smoke ’em if you got ’em” is your right, not some option the government can shit on when they feel like it. Calling it a felony is a sad joke of a law, not Law and Order which is what I support. Arresting people for smoking is stupid, are since all these arrest happen out of the public eye, they don’t get to see up close and personal exactly how stupid these “law actions” are.

      Just think, if we had a TV running these useless arrests 24/7, the war on drug would have ended years ago. What would be a good name, “Law, Lies and Disorder”? Showing people how the police undermine public safety is the only way to move this situation foward.

    9. jimmy says:

      We all know it’s a money-making racket, for the police, the courts, the drug “treatment” business, the drug dealers and cartels, the industries that benefit from killing competition from a sustainable resource.

      That quote from MLK was written in “Letters from a Birmingham Jail,” where he quotes Thomas Paine and his “Common Sense,” and also cites St. Thomas Aquinas, that “An unjust law is no law at all.”

      No crime is committed by using cannabis. No real law is broken. So no matter what is parroted about cannabis being “still illegal” “still against the law,” is n o t an argument. It is a fallacious appeal to authority, and in this case, it is an appeal to irresponsible, paternalistic authority.

      They used to say slavery was the law, that harboring runaways was a “crime.” They used to allow child marriage, child labor, public executions. Such cherished traditions such as these maybe would still be around if people had the same blase attitude that we live in the best of all possible worlds and so things should always stay as they are.

      Frankly, prohibition and Nixon’s CSA fraud scheme are the real crimes. Terrorism, oppression, theft, killing, false imprisonment end up having euphemisms like “drug dealer bust” “property seizure,” “gun misfire” and “justice.”

      Some rules were made to be broken because they are stupid, unjust, arbitrary commands, fabricated by elitist and greedy a-holes who think they’re earned some right to pass arbitrary rules on their equals.

      “Taxation without representation? F U.”

      “Get to the back of the bus?” “I can’t eat in this restaurant because of my appearance?” F. U.

      “You want to deny medicine that helps me because Dick-nosed Nixon made up a scheduling scheme, a non-scientific joke?” F. U.

    10. Voice of the Resistance says:

      I don’t feel like insulting anyone today; I would like to say that I’m gratfull to have been a solder in this, silly sometimes sad, and the most brainless war ever waged.I