In a discriminatory move, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has decided that a cannabis festival is an inappropriate sponsor for their “Adopt-A-Highway” litter removal program. A department spokesperson explained that the festival was a non-medical event so they deemed it inappropriate. The decision came down only after the group had already cleaned the strip of highway of trash.
A stretch of Route 106 in Susquehanna County was the area that The Pennsylvania Cannabis Festival had applied to service with a group of volunteers. The festival was April 23rd in Scranton’s Nay August Park and is a typical cannabis festival that brings a wide variety of attendees, vendors, music, and activism. Its the third year for the event, which occurred the same day medical marijuana was legalized in Pennsylvania last year.
Jeff Zick was one of the organizers of the Pennsylvania Cannabis Festival made the application to PennDOT. WNEP Channel 16 reported:
“They gave us all our supplies, gave us a stretch of highway. We didn’t find out we were denied until we did our cleanup,” said Zick, an organizer of the Pennsylvania Cannabis Festival.
Even though the Pennsylvania Cannabis Festival was allowed to hold an event in Scranton’s Nay Aug Park last month, PennDOT told Zick no to the request to adopt the highway.
“They got back to us and said we’re non-medical cannabis, so we’re not allowed because we’re non-medical cannabis,” Zick said.
… “I’m trying to pick up the road, pick up trash. I’m not trying to make a statement or a scene, not asking for signage, want my stretch of road.”
The stretch of highway was just off Interstate 81, a federally funded highway system, which reminded me of a Southern Oregon group that adopted Interstate 5 near Ashland, Oregon.
In 2013 the Southern Oregon NORML adopted section of the well known “I-5” just over the border from California. They were provided signage, as well, showing who was responsible for that section of the highway. Southern Oregon NORML promoted medical cannabis, provided medical cannabis clinics, and dispensed medical cannabis to medical patients, and they also actively lobbied for full legalization.
Lori Duckworth, the centers founder and director, told WeedNews.co, “Our mission was simple … Be good stewards in our local community and exhibit that in our daily actions in our deeds.”
Southern Oregon NORML has held the section of I-5 between the south Barnett exit & the Phoenix exit, located deep in Southern Oregon for more than 5 years now, even though Southern Oregon NORML has been closed since June of 2013 due to the facility been raided by local authorities in ‘Operation Storefront’,” Duckworth explained. “Our group has been cleaning that stretch for years now … Over the time we have been honked at with cheers of appreciation and even news coverage from our local new station for our work. These efforts are what change the canna-bigotry that dwells within our communities.”
I would like to see Pennsylvania can get beyond the canna-bigotry and start realizing that cannabis users are their neighbors, friends, judges, and teachers. There is no room for discrimination against groups that promote cannabis, which is safer than alcohol and cigarettes. Do you think they would tell a local brew pub they can’t participate in an “adopt-a-highway program? Yet there are hundreds of people who die each year from alcohol related traffic accidents and thousands are hospitalized and die from chronic alcohol abuse.