Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — A Philadelphia-based evangelist who was sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ near Independence Hall on Saturday confronted park police for permitting visitors to openly smoke marijuana as part of a nationally-organized observance in celebration of pot.
Michael Marcavage of Repent America said that he and other Christians were preaching and engaging in conversations with visitors at Independence National Historical Park when he observed people puffing pot as part of a permitted event. Upon inquiring from individuals as to whether they were smoking marijuana, they smiled and said they were indeed toking weed.
Marcavage then brought the matter to the attention of nearby federal park rangers, who stated that they could not take any action because the park had granted a permit for the event. He captured the discussion on video.
“They’re smoking marijuana over here,” Marcavage stated as he approached one ranger.
“Right,” the ranger replied.
“You’re letting them do that?” Marcavage asked.
“They’re on federal property. They have a permit with the parks,” the ranger answered.
“Right, but they don’t have a permit to smoke marijuana,” Marcavage asserted.
“They have a permit with the parks,” repeated the ranger.
Marcavage then spoke with Ranger Brian McLeod, who was the supervising ranger on duty. He stated that he was aware of the matter, but likewise contended that the group had a permit, and that he could not stop the illegal activities from taking place.
“We don’t have the resources to combat that right now,” McLeod said.
“So, you’re going to let them smoke marijuana?” Marcavage asked.
“We’re not letting them. It’s an officer safety issue,” McLeod stated. “They do have a permit. … I’ll just leave it at that.”
McLeod took off on his bicycle moments later, not wanting to deal with the matter.
Marcavage spoke to some of the people that were toking weed in the park while children were passing by and mothers were pushing babies in strollers. He was informed by event organizers that the park has granted permits for pot-smoking gatherings four times, and that rangers and police have never stopped them. They advised that another event was planned for May 11th on federal park property.
“Although in plain sight and in broad daylight, law enforcement turned a blind eye as puffs of smoke and the stench of marijuana filled the air,” Marcavage lamented. “It was very telling of how our nation has literally gone to pot.”
The event Saturday was part of National Pot Smoking Day, also known as “4/20 Day,” held on 4/20 to coincide with the marijuana term “420.” At 4:20 p.m., the attendees of the event in Philadelphia sent up one big puff of marijuana smoke to commemorate the event. Reports state that similar celebrations likewise took place in major cities across America, including in San Francisco, California; Denver, Colorado; Seattle, Washington; Phoenix, Arizona and New York City.
Tens of thousands were expected to participate yesterday in Denver, an event that has occurred every year in the city, even before pot smoking became legal in the state. Officials report that approximately 50 people were arrested last year at the event, but stated that this year police must only deal with the “most egregious” cases.
As previously reported, evangelists recently visiting the city of Seattle, Washington similarly saw a number of people smoking on the street, and some men even held signs begging for money to purchase marijuana. Marijuana is now legal in Washington, but not in Pennsylvania.
“I was really shocked,” evangelist Don Karns told Christian News Network. “I was grieved at the way the city has fallen since the last time I was here. … There were about four to five men with these cardboard signs — homemade signs — talking about their need for marijuana. … I was grieved that things had come to that place where grown men are holding signs obviously begging for marijuana.”
Police officers came to the scene yesterday in Philadelphia after a complaint was lodged, but did not stop the illegal activity. Therefore, Marcavage and the other Christians accompanying him approached the area of the pot-smoking event and began preaching the word of God.
Chief Ranger Patrick Suddath at Independence National Historical Park did not return requests for comment.