Is smoking pot protected free speech?

Philadelphia protester will make the case before a federal judge next week

McClatchy Washington BureauDecember 13, 2013 

Lisa Marie, of Oakland, took part in a rally in front of the Federal Building in downtown Oakland last year. In Philadelphia, a protester will go to federal court next week, arguing that he should not be prosecuted for smoking pot at a downtown rally because he was exercising his First Amendment rights.


It may be a unique defense, but Chris Goldstein will tell a federal judge in Philadelphia next week that he should not be prosecuted for smoking a joint at a downtown rally because he was just exercising his constitutional rights.

"It is time for the U.S. federal government to stop using law enforcement resources against peaceful marijuana consumers," said Goldstein, co-chair of the Philadelphia chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "This exercise in Free Speech and the First Amendment demonstrates that `We the People' have had enough with heavy-handed Prohibition."

More than 2,500 people have protested federal marijuana laws in Philadelphia during "Smoke Down Prohibition" events that began last December. The protests have taken place at the historic site where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed.

Goldstein and another activist, Don Dezarn, have a court date on Dec. 19. Both were cited in June and again in August. They've created a legal defense fund to fight the charges.


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