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

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 thoughts

  1. 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. 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 … 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. 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.]

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. I’m grateful to have been part 0f history, and changing history, through good days, and bad not always for the best but never for the worst.

  11. “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.”

    You know, I don’t like it when a person who knows nothing about marijuana uses a stereotype like “pothead” to make their point. i HATE it when someone who supposedly knows what they are talking about uses a stereotype like “pothead”.


    The sentence should have read “It would be interesting to know how much a U.S. Attorney gets paid to stand around and watch people who consume a harmless plant get ticketed on a weekend.”

  12. Hello Owen, I’m a pothead and quite proud of it. It is only a “stereotype” if you’re the one conforming to it. Otherwise, people come in all shapes, sizes and attitudes. It is a good thing they (the media) no longer attach “potheads” and “hippies” together, because potheads like marijuana and are otherwise normal people, while hippies like many drugs and not being a part of society. Perhaps you’re confusing the two?

  13. I agree with Owen. The stereotypes regarding those who consume cannabis are gross exaggerations of how people behave during their earliest experiences with cannabis.

    And we people who care a great deal about the end of an unjust public policy that causes more problems, pervasive problems caused by prohibition to such an extent that we don’t really connect the two.

    Prohibition & Social Problems go together inseparably.

    I’ve watched Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series many times. The man was brilliant and so articulate and sensitive. He used cannabis at the end of the day. Richard Feynman was known to use cannabis. It’s common knowledge that Ted Turner smokes in his office. Steve Jobs. Bill Gates.

    A belief is just a proposition, initially one just understands the proposition. Further “proof” or “evidence” that it is an accurate description of “those who use cannabis,” and solidifies it. And repeating it over and over repetitively is how beliefs are formed. And govt sponsored propaganda and misinformation surely helped bolster stereotypes. Those which portray cannabis users are dumb losers who don’t have a life and lack any motivation, nor can they dress like adults or ever stop watching TV and eating processed junk. Pure BS

    If anything, the enhancement effects of cannabis make experiences and sensory stimuli more enjoyable and helps people slow down and live in the moment instead of having that neurotic chatterbox agenda running constantly in one’s head, that is, living in the past and the future, not in the now.

    Cannabis stereotypes are as worthless as any other. They are generalizations that seemingly have some basis in “fact” (and you’ll hear many people claim this as they cling to the security blanket of their simplified reality) but stereotypes are nevertheless fallacious as hasty generalizations. And using terms like “pothead” “stoner” is just a kind of name-calling based on the stereotypes.

    I wouldn’t call Washington and Jefferson “potheads.” Any person who makes a purchase at a liquor store is not a “drunk” or “alky” necessarily.

    I think “cannabis user” or “person who used or uses cannabis” or “person who smokes” describes things better than name-calling, which only perpetuates the false stereotype.

  14. Thanks Ted.

    Quick story: I recently started posting on Facebook, found an old friend from 40 years ago. We played in a band. Despite the fact he acknowledges my succesful career in music, my activism in the marijuana reform movement prompts him to make stereotypical “jokes” about my “memory loss” because I could not remember the names of 2 losers he hung out with back then……He has turned into a “stereotypical Jesus freak”, but I am a Christian so I don’t “reprimand him” for being IGNORANT.

    So fuck off Dave. You don’t think the media lumps hippies together with potheads because you sound like you are the stereotypical “pothead”.

  15. Hi Ted and Owen, sorry you guys sound a bit overly senstive. How is “pothead” a negative stereotype??? You guys are looking for some more of something to protest, like its a reflex at this point. Any one that likes anything particular thing is a “head”. Next you’ll tell us some gay shit like, “If you call it a ‘headshop’ you’ll be bringing in all these bad vibes man, you’re re-enforcing all the negative stereotypes.”

    Stop being screwballs and critizing people for using the lanuage correctly. Try it, you’ll even pull up stores by searching for “head shops” on google maps. But “smoke shop” does pull up more.

    I will grant that bogus conservative media still puts “hippy” and “pothead” together as synonyms, but the mainstream media does not. They haven’t now for several years. Where have you been? DARE doesn’t bother attackinig marijuana anymore because everytime they do, they get a backlash. The stereotypes are broken, get over it. 🙂

  16. Think about the term “crackhead” for a minute. And “crack baby” and think of all the meanings that go with those terms. Would you say these are positive or negative terms?

    Some drunks like to call themselves “alkys”like it’s funny yet it’s an insult from another person. Imagine the adoption of terms like “pharmahead” or “pharma fiend” instead of dope fiend.

    Then think about “pothead.” It’s the same thing, name-calling encouraged by propaganda, that perpetuates a false stereotype. It’s an inane way of characterizing people with generalizations. It’s name calling and pointless.

    No one mentioned “headshops” or “head hunting” or “head cheese” and how is that term name calling, like “gay” “screwballs” And what else are you gonna call it? Paraphernalia market?

    No one ever mentioned “hippies” whatever that word means to you. You brought up the word in your post, “criticizing people.”

    You may not believe it, but “hippie” is a pejorative term for a low status person. It’s not a political term, the hippies of the 60’s are history, like the beatniks of the 50’s. Today, they’re more likely to be called poor groomers who smell like patchouli and loiter, without a cause.

    Maybe you don’t mind being called pothead and calling yourself that too. Who knows, maybe it’s your nickname and you like it, but it’s a negative term that perpetuates a false stereotype. You say you’re “using the lanuage [sic] correctly.” DARE and what they tell to children is no barometer of what the police with actually do, and the courts, and the local, state, and federal govts want to continue making 1/3 of arrests for cannabis.

    “The stereotypes are broken, get over it,” is your conclusion? I seriously beg to differ and actually wonder if you are joking?!
    Arrests for cannabis have not declined despite blatant lies by public officials and drug agency, that people are not being incarcerated for pot anymore. Liars.

  17. No Ted, I’m not joking. There is nothing wrong with marijuana, really. There is nothing “wrong” with it being call pot, trees, weed, pot, reefer or what have you. Some people call it bali, should we protest that one too? I’m sure there is someone out there that hates “Bali” more than anything else in the world. Guess what? I don’t care what lairs say. I’m not going to allow their insanity to let them steal useful words from our language.

    Cannabis = marijuana = pot = reefer. If one use of the word is attached to negative ideas, they all are. As you said, they are still arresting people for cannabis. It hardly matters whether it is called “cannabis” or “pot”, if you have it the police will arrest you. So no, I don’t get your point at all. “Cannabis” is just as poisoned by these prohibitionists as any other name for it.

    People are starting to line up to support legalization. We are at the tipping point. How on Earth do you still think the Drug War bullshit is still in control??? The only people still spouting this propaganda are those profitting from it. Everyone can see the blatant hypocrisy at this point.

    One of the problems with reigning in the War on Marijuana, is our Executive Branch is out of control and the courts have not supervised them as our consitution directs. This has nothing to do with how people view the use of the words, “marijuana” vs. “whatever”. The system doesn’t hold itseft accountable. They are in many ways helping to create crime, the exact opposite their mission.

  18. I think I was pretty clear, that name-calling like “pothead” and “reefer addict” “dope fiend” doesn’t help stop the false stereotypes.

    “Cannabis = marijuana = pot = reefer. If one use of the word is attached to negative ideas, they all are.”

    Cheeba, grass, doob, kind, ganga. Whatever, seriously. These are synonymous nouns, not stereotypes or ad hominem attacks like “pothead” which is more of a slanderous generalization.

    In this later post, you’re not using terms like “pothead” like earlier, or other terms names like reefer addict, stoner, idiot, criminal.”

    Cannabis is the genus name of the plant. There is nothing negative about it. I don’t have qualms with the term “mary jane” or “mary-john” Spanish slang term “marijuana” which was used deliberately by Hairy Asslicker instead of “hemp” which most everyone knew as medicine, fiber, an invaluable American staple crop.

    People didn’t realize that “marijuana” was “hemp” which also put a racist twist on the Tax Stamp Act, framing pot as a specifically Mexican plant, brought in by migrant workers. This gave plenty of already-racist xenophobes more reason to allow Asslicker to have his way, keep his unnecessary job, even though his public addresses gave the impression of an idiot who spoke worse than a 3th grader giving his first book report, of a fictional story.

    Marihuana was the term specifically written in to the BS Tax Stamp Act because they KNEW most people would not know what “marihuana” was, certain not the hemp that would have put an end to Asslicker’s agenda (as a relative by marriage to Randolph Hearst, the Rupert Murdoch of his day. But they knew it would carry negative connotations among racists who would support his scheme, and they did.

    When the war came, “Reefer Madness” was replaced with “Hemp for Victory” and NOT “marihuana for victory” because that would’ve raised too many questions like, “you mean “marijuana” is actually ‘hemp?'” Fool me once, shame on you.

    People who use cannabis tend to live longer, healthier lives and receive myriad benefits from a plant that co-evolved with us. Our natural endocannabinoid system, can be supplemented with external, exocannabinoids to treat cannabinoid deficiency. The LD-50 and therapeutic doses are so high as to be considered impossible to reach, and therefore can not ever cause death directly, in practical terms.

    No, nothing is wrong with all the slang words for cannabis. But there are myriad slang words for sexual parts and sexual acts, that some people would rather avoid in conversation when “penis” will do fine. When “penis” and “vagina” and “sex” work fine, one could spew all the other endless words that come from the gutter, but which do not make the message any more clear, without being offensive, or sounding poorly-educated and low-status.

    Some of them are not words worth using, in order to be specific. Hard druggies like “cokeheads” and “methheads” use words like “snow” “blow;” for coke, “glass” “ice” for meth. One could argue that these are not “negative” terms or nouns either, no sir, no negative connotations at all (sarcasm) if the person can rationalize all these words as something good in order to justify their enjoyment.

    So why use urban gutter slang regarding cannabis when this seems to be identical to the slang used for drugs that are a one-way street to self-destruction. Should doctors use “dick” and “schlong” considering them synonymous and professional like “penis” or “member?”

    So it’s here I find this point has run any useful course. I agree with you probably more that you think, but i’ll say again name-calling that perpetuates false stereotypes are the same thing as reefer madness stereotyped characterizations, a stupid Jekyll and Hyde portrayal, which spells certain doom for the user and anyone in proximity.

    You were talking about “pothead” being neither negative or positive, just some innocent word that sounds nice (because you know what pot is like) but then why are there words like “crackhead” “methhead” “cokehead” “heroin junkie” and finally “POTHEAD?” Because they all come from the SAME propaganda machine, not from people like Keith Stroup, Jack Herer, Lester Grinspoon, Francis Young, Sanjay Gupta, physicians and nurses, and the 20-30+ million regular users of cannabis.

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