Questions surround “Decriminalize B’ham” smoke out event

Smoke out guests questioned

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - There’s confusion about why Jefferson County’s Sheriff and both District Attorneys are listed as attending events by activists who want to decriminalize marijuana.

Some of those elected leaders on a flyer promoting the event this weekend don’t know anything about it.

The fight to decriminalize marijuana in Birmingham continues with what’s being called the “largest smoke out in the city's history”.

"We’re tired of poor people being harassed, stopped, pulled over for having a small blunt on them and taken to jail, something as simple filing our jails up that’s legal in 13 states,” Carlos Chaverst, one of the organizers said.

Chaverst says each year, thousands of men and women are arrested for low level marijuana possession. Chaverst sent us flyers for the events this weekend. One of them claims the guest speakers will be Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway, District Attorney Danny Carr, and DA Lynnneice Washington.

Both Pettway and Washington’s offices tell us they don’t know anything about the event. Carr says he’s not planning on speaking at the event. Washington’s office says she didn’t give anyone permission to put her name on the flyer to promote the event. Chaverst insists he got commitments from them.

“We’re still in the process of dealing with that and there was a commitment from all three of our leaders. What we’re working on now is trying to get out the details. I understand they may be afraid for whatever reason for their name to be on something associated with marijuana, but yes, our leaders did make a commitment,” Chaverst said.

Chaverst says he spoke with the Sheriff Monday night. Pettway’s spokesperson Captain David Agee says the Sheriff believes marijuana possession should be treated like a traffic ticket.

"I’m glad to know that the Sheriff and I do agree on what we did talk about on the phone last evening as far as what the Sheriff’s department will or will not do as far as those individuals being arrested for simple marijuana possession, but also we have to challenge our District Attorneys as well,” Chaverst said.

The “Decriminalize Bham Smoke Out” is Saturday, April 20. For security and safety reasons, Chaverst says the actual location for the event will be announced the day of. He expects more than a thousand people to take part.

Before the smoke out, organizers plan to hold a day party at Crown Sports Bar and Lounge from 2 p.m. - 8 p.m. where the Sheriff and District Attorneys are listed as guest speakers.

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