N.J. Senate candidate Don DeZarn among seven busted at marijuana rally
Seven people were issued citations for marijuana use Saturday at what has become a monthly pro-marijuana legalization rally at Independence Mall in Center City and two charged will have to appear in court for their second citations in six months.
Chris Goldstein, an organizer of the event called SmokeDown Prohibition VIII and a leader with the local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), and Don DeZarn, a libertarian candiate for New Jersey state Senate, face a mandatory appearance in federal court, the U.S. Attorney's office in Pennsylvania said.
DeZarn, 47, was first issued a citation at the May 18 SmokeDown Prohibition event, he said. He paid a fine of $150 plus a $25 court fee.
Neither he nor Goldstein, who is a contributor to Philly.com, was given court dates for this weekend's citation.
A spokeswoman for the National Park Rangers, who issued the seven citations, said a woman identified as only "Ms. Yates" was also charged with resisting arrest.
The monthly civil disobedience protests near Independence Hall have often included citations for marijuana use and DeZarn, of East Windsor and running in New Jersey's 14th District, said park rangers have become efficient and orderly in their handling of the smokers.
"They off to the side have an area set up and tables and tents and conduct the paperwork right there," DeZarn said Wednesday. "The first time it was about 30 minutes and this time, it took about 15 minutes."
He said he began attending the rallies in December, but became an ardent supporter of legalized marijuana when he met some ill people who wished to use pot as part of their medical treatment. He also said the issue is part of his libertarian platform of "legalized freedoms."
"For ridiculous reasons, our freedom is being taken away from us," said DeZarn, an employee of Princeton University the past 18 years. "I have to ask myself: If the government is going to lie to us about something as simple as [the war on drugs], what else are they lying to us about?"
He said he is planning to attend the next SmokeDown Prohibition event scheduled for Sept. 21.