On the day that Philadelphia becomes the largest American city to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, police will deliver the first citation with a hand shake.
Weed activist Michael Whiter's request to earn the first pot citation on Oct. 20 was accepted Monday afternoon by Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan.
Whiter, 38, called Sullivan's participation an "olive branch, because he's been meeting with us and working with us to help keep everything peaceful."
Sullivan and Steve Glenn, commander of the Civil Affairs Unit, have met regularly with a few marijuana enthusiasts and regular protestors, including Whiter, at coffee shops across the city for the better part of a year. The goal of the so-called "Donut Summits" was to find common ground after rallies at Independence Mall in recent years became combative.
In his pursuit of the first citation, Whiter asked that Sullivan personally sign over the citation, and then shake hands in an act of good faith.
Sullivan said while he doesn't agree with the new rules, the act could be "symbolic," a peace pipe, if you will.
"I don't have any problems shaking somebody's hand when I give them a citation," Sullivan said. "The thing that we have worked out is that we'll be there on the 20th and we will be prepared to issue a citation in a respectful, cooperative, peaceful manner."
Whiter added: "The handshake is more for me, to thank them for no longer putting cuffs on people like me who need cannabis to maintain a quality of life."
Mayor Michael Nutter signed the decriminalization of marijuana bill on Oct. 1. 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. When signing the bill, Nutter adamantly stressed that the use and possession of any amount of marijuana remains illegal.
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