Times Leader Reports on Wilkes Barre Reform Rally
After recent victories around the Keystone State, marijuana activists are headed for Northeastern Pennsylvania.
“Dispelling the fear and the ‘Reefer Madness’ mindset people still cling to is what we’re trying to accomplish,” said Erica McBride of the Keystone Cannabis Coalition.
The group, in cooperation with the Northeastern Pennsylvania Cannabis Network, will host a cannabis reform rally from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in Kirby Park. The rally will feature several speakers, including a former Philadelphia police captain and a few medical marijuana patients, as well as musical entertainment from local reggae act George Wesley.
Jesse Novatski — the formerly anonymous founder of the cannabis network — also plans to speak. The Clark Summit man said an outpouring of local support following a Times Leader article featuring his group convinced him to take his support public.
He said some of the support came in the form emails from parents who said they’d before never thought of using marijuana for their children’s health issues, but were considering it after reading the article.
“They’re just parents, they’re patients, they’re everyday working professionals,” Novatski said. “I’ve learned that there are many faces of a cannabis supporter.”
More than 450 people have responded to the event on Facebook. However, McBride said she expects the turnout will likely be lower.
The rally comes little more than a week after Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed a bill decriminalizing cannabis possession in the state’s largest city, and just days after Senate Bill 1182, sometimes called “the Compassionate Care Act,” cleared the state Senate floor in a 43-7 vote in favor of the medical marijuana bill.
McBride said the cannabis coalition, based just outside Reading, is less than pleased with some last minute changes made to the bill, but still views its passage from the Senate as a victory.
“They severely limit the conditions that qualify you, which is disappointing,” she said. “We’ll just have to keep fighting for everyone else.”
McBride said the coalition plans next year to throw its support behind an industrial hemp bill as well as decriminalization efforts.
But the coalition doesn’t plan to stop with easier access to medical pot, or even statewide decriminalization, instead favoring an end to prohibition, she said. However, McBride added, the group is “all about pushing for what is politically possible.”
Learn more about the Wilkes-Barre Cannabis Reform Rally on Facebook.