Activists to celebrate 4 years of marijuana decriminalization in Philadelphia

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The mascot

The mascot "Hempy" of the Delaware chapter of NORML stands at the 2016 "Pop Up Weed Garden" event at Eakins' Oval in Philadelphia. (Courtesy of NORML)

Saturday marks four years since Philadelphia decriminalized having small amounts of marijuana.

Cannabis activists will gather at Philadelphia City Hall tomorrow at 4:20 p.m., for a Pop Up Weed Garden, playing on the beer garden trend.

“It’s a place for cannabis consumers to come out in public sort of draw up some of the stigmas, come out of the closet as it were, and enjoy a bit of the freedom that we’ve won here in the city,” said Chris Goldstein, a spokesman for the group South Philly NORML.

On October 1, 2014, then-Mayor Michael Nutter signed an ordinance making it so that anyone caught by police with less than 30 grams (less than one ounce) of marijuana could just get a $25 ticket rather than handcuffs.

On October 20, that year, police began putting the law into practice.

“These are $25 civil tickets and that’s a big difference than a summary criminal prosecution or getting caught in the criminal justice system,” Goldstein said.

According to data from the Philadelphia Police Department, marijuana arrests have dropped more than 85 percent since 2013.

Though citations are on the rise, last year, police gave out more than 4,000 tickets for pot.

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