On Wednesday, Philadelphia marijuana activist Nikki Allen Poe (legal name Richard Tamaccio) was sentenced to serve four years on probation, along with 100 hours of community service, after pleading guilty to charges related to organizing an indoor pot market in a warehouse in Frankford.
Yet, even with this sentence, Poe will still be permitted to have marijuana in his system while on probation, as he has a medical marijuana card for the state.
In court before Judge Scott DiClaudio, Poe’s attorney, Charles Peruto, said that even though the 38-year-old has had two prior issues with police – a DUI in Florida and a federal summary charge for smoking pot on government property – because he serves as a “face” of the marijuana legalization movement in Philadelphia, he poses little threat of recidivism.
“You can bet he’s not going to come back,” Peruto told the judge.
Along with the probationary sentence and being required to serve community service, a requirement that Poe said after sentencing wouldn’t be a concern – “I live a life of service,” he said – Poe will be required to pay a restitution of $2,500.
Poe pleaded guilty to charges of possession with intent to deliver and conspiracy stemming from a police raid of a party – dubbed a “Philly Smoke Sesh” – that attracted some 200 people to a warehouse in Frankford in April of last year.
At the time, police said they seized 50 pound of marijuana, 100 pounds of “THC-infused edibles” and $50,000 in cash. Twenty-two people were arrested, all of whom city prosecutor Ryan Slaven said were believed to have been selling marijuana at the party. But Poe and his girlfriend Rachael Friedman were accused of organizing the event, and were charged with more serious offenses including reckless endangerment and causing or risking a catastrophe.
However, those charges against Poe have been dropped. Friedman’s charges are pending and she will next appear in court in May.
In rendering his verdict, DiClaudio noted that even though views have been changing on the criminal definition of marijuana, with the state legalizing it for medical use and newly elected District Attorney Larry Krasner even issuing an order earlier this year telling police not to arrest anyone for possession of the drug, it is still illegal, and as a servant of the court, he was required to treat it as such.
“I need you to understand that it’s still illegal, what you have done,” the judge told Poe.
Following the sentence, Poe’s attorney said that he was “tickled pink” by the verdict.
“This is a relief … [the prosecution] realized nobody was in danger,” said Peruto of the dropping of reckless endangerment charges.
In addressing the press following the sentencing, Poe said he was glad that he was only given a probationary sentence but frustrated by the fact that he will be “saddled with a felony” for the rest of his life while marijuana is moving to a place of legality in Philadelphia.
“In three to five years, these crimes – in quotes – won’t be crimes,” he said.
In explaining the bust, Poe noted that he wasn’t at the warehouse when it was raided and was instead arrested after a follow-up raid at his former South Philadelphia home.
He was charged with having somewhere between one and ten pounds of marijuana, because, the prosecution said, they discovered the drug in vegetable, edible and oil forms and it was hard to determine the exact amount.
Poe said he was glad, however, that the judge noted that he has a prescription for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, though, he said wanted to make sure, going forward that he doesn’t end up in a “Meek Mill situation.”
“Thank god that the medical marijuana program is here,” he said. “I just hope that I don’t end up in some kind of Meek Mill situation where someone sees me smoke a bone on the internet and I get locked up.”