Marijuana advocates want Tom Wolf’s ear, state-wide legalization

Charles Mostoller

The most prominent Philadelphia marijuana lobby consists of two men: a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder and a comedian.

The two men, who helped push for marijuana decriminalization in the largest city in the country, have now set their sights on the governor-elect and state-wide legalization.

During his successful campaign to unseat Gov. Tom Corbett, Tom Wolf offered his vocal support for marijuana’s decriminalization and medicinal use. And the local pair wants Wolf to know they won’t let him forget.

“The marijuana lobby in Philadelphia wants Tom Wolf to know that we’re broke, but resilient,” said N.A. Poe, who moonlights as a comedian and a Northern Liberties bartender, but who also ran for a seat on City Council riding the marijuana issue.

“We’re not going anywhere,” Poe added, “and we’re going to stick to our guns and if he’s going to say he will work on decriminalizing marijuana we’re gonna hold him to it.”

His fellow crusader, former Marine Mike Whiter, has consistently claimed marijuana has helped him battle his issues with PTSD. Whiter, who was also, as Metro reported, the first person cited for public marijuana use in Philadelphia, said he’s skeptical of the businessman from York.

“Here is my stance on Tom Wolf,” Whiter said. “He’s another politician saying things that people want to hear. Things that the marijuana lobby especially wants to hear.”

“So I’m skeptical,” he added. “But I’m going to keep fighting as hard as I’ve been fighting because he needs to see this.”

Messages left with Wolf’s office requesting comment were not returned.

Erik Altieri, communications director for the national pro-pot outfit NORML, said Gov. Corbett, a former prosecutor, had long been a staunch opponent of legalization both medical or recreational use.

“He had threatened to veto any bills we managed to get through the legislature,” Altieri said. “Whereas Tom Wolf from the primaries came out very clearly in support for at least the decriminalization of personal possession as well as allowing the medcial use of marijuana. … and he we fully expect a push on those two fronts when he takes office in January.”

Even as a businessman, Altieri added, Wolf would hire people with drug charges on their record and give them another chance at a successful life.

“The real lobbying effort won’t be convincing Tom Wolf, it’s going to be the state legislature, which is unfortunately overwhelmingly Republican and they traditionally oppose this issue,” he said. “We believe that through the grass roots push and Tom Wolf’s support … we will be able to to hopefully sway the legislature into proving some substantial reform bills in 2015.”

“We’ll see if Wolf sticks to his word,” Altieri added, “or becomes like a lot of politicians.”

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