Michael Whiter lit a joint and took two long drags while standing in the City Hall courtyard Monday morning before a small crowd of pot enthusiasts and two top cops.
A bike cop rolled up, and Whiter dropped the joint. The cop stomped the joint out, and reached for his duty belt.
And pulled out a citation booklet.
“That f***er is getting framed right there,” said Whiter, 38, pointing proudly at his citation. “I just f***ing smoked weed in Philly and got a ticket. That’s awesome.”
Whiter earned the first pot citation handed out in Philadelphia on the day the city’s decriminalization of marijuana law took effect. The city is officially the largest in America to decriminalize small amounts of the recreational drug.
The ticketed offense: “Marijuana usage in public.”
The description: “Male was smoking a brown, hand-rolled cigarette that smelled of Marijuana.”
Fellow pot legalization crusader N.A. Poe, Whiter’s partner in crime, said “It’s pretty much an historic moment.”
“A moment we worked towards for a long time,” he added. “It’s kind of anti-climatic in a way. But it’s nice.”
For the better part of a year, Whiter and Poe met regularly with Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan and Steve Glenn, commander of the Civil Affairs Unit, at coffee shops across the city. The goal of the so-called “Donut Summits” was to find common ground after rallies at Independence Mall in recent years became combative.
Since the law passed, Whiter has publicly advocated for Sullivan to personally write the first ever citation and hand it over with a handshake as a symbolic gesture, but Sullivan said he was pulled away for a conference call. He instead dispatched Lt. Joseph O’Brien, of the Civil Affairs Unit, to oversee the exchange.
“I was a little bummed Sullivan didn’t show,” Whiter said, “but I was happy overall.”
Under the new law, any resident found in possession of 30 grams or fewer will face a $25 fine. For public use, the fine is $100, or up to nine months of community service. The marijuana will be confiscated, but the offender will not face criminal charges.
So, is he going to pay the fine, or take the community service?
“Pay the fine,” Whiter said. He shrugged: “I’m lazy, man.”
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