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Local Activist Who Fights For Marijuana Legalization Enters City Council Race

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - A new candidate has entered the race for the vacant seat on City Council, and his platform focuses not just on schools or taxes, but also on decriminalizing marijuana.

Nikki Allen Poe is a 34-year-old activist working for the legalization of marijuana, and now he's running as the Libertarian candidate to fill the open seat on Philadelphia City Council.

"I am just looking to provide an alternative to the Democratic machine," he tells KYW Newsradio. "The Democrats in this city should not be able to just appoint people to City Council."

Poe, whose real name is Richard Tamaccio, says his campaign will be focused, at least in part, on the issue of decriminalizing pot.

"People's lives are being ruined, their jobs are being ruined, for being arrested for what is essentially a healing plant," he says.

Poe himself is serving one year of probation for possession of marijuana, after an arrest last year at a pro-legalization rally at Independence National Park.   And he says he's not shy about telling people of his record:

"That's something that I'll wear proudly on my sleeve.  And I think that's good, because I don't have any skeletons in my closet.  All my skeletons are scattered around the rooms."

Poe will face Democrat Ed Neilson and Republican Matt Wolfe in the May 20th special election.  The at-large Council seat was made vacant when Bill Green resigned to become chairman of the School Reform Commission.

Poe admits it'll be an uphill battle, but he says he'll run a "shotgun campaign," using social media to overcome a lack of funding.

"We do have an upper hand in the social media realm, being that we're younger," he says.

Poe, who lives in South Philadelphia, says his day job currently is a professional comedian -- a skill that could come in handy on City Council.  He says he supports current efforts by Councilman Jim Kenney to further decriminalize pot in Philadelphia.

Kenney's bill has been approved in committee but the lawmaker is holding off calling it up for a final vote.

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