Philly activist first cited under new decriminalization law

Mike Whiter wore his camouflage Phillies cap and a white and green NORML hoodie as he stood outside of Philadelphia’s City Hall Monday morning and lit a joint. After taking a couple of puffs, a police officer ordered him to drop it and began writing Whiter a $100 citation. Only a day earlier, the same act would have led to an arrest and criminal record.

“This is what I wanted.” Whiter told Scrapple TV, who was on the scene. “I don’t know why this is what I wanted, but it is.”

Philadelphia’s new marijuana decriminalization law took effect Monday and marijuana activists are celebrating. The state of Pennsylvania punishes possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana with a misdemeanor criminal charge, possible jail time and a fine. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed a measure earlier this month to change that in Philadelphia.Under the new city law, possession of small amounts of marijuana only carries a $25 fine or $100 for public use or display.

Philly NORML coordinated the first citation with Philadelphia police to avoid any trouble. The local branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws developed a working relationship with city police after a protest last May turned ugly. Local comedian and activist, N. A. Poe narrates the video and expresses his happiness about things staying peaceful.

“Mike is a veteran. He’s getting his ticket for marijuana and then we’re all gonna go on our way.” Poe says in the video.

Whiter is a long-time marijuana activist and retired Marine. It was in the service that he developed the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that marijuana treats so well.

“We’ve been fighting for this for so long and marijuana is finally decriminalized in Philadelphia,” Whiter told the camera after receiving his citation. “I can take the medicine that helps me and only get a $100 ticket now.”

This article was originally published by

Published by P. Aiden Hunt

Aiden Hunt is a creative writer and freelance journalist covering marijuana policy and other related issues. He has been published in print and online by outlets such as The Denver Post (The Cannabist),, The Hemp Connoisseur Magazine and Cronic Magazine. He is currently focused on literary creative nonfiction.

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