By: BRIAN HICKEY/PHILLYVOICE
Back in April, Richard Tamaccio Jr. found himself in maximum-security custody after a high-profile raid at a marijuana “Smoke Session” party in Philadelphia’s Frankford neighborhood.
Many of the 22 people arrested have seen their cases fast-tracked and, to various extents, resolved.
However, Tamaccio and his girlfriend Rachael Friedman still await trial on charges related to drugs and “causing a catastrophe,” the latter stemming from the city deeming the location dangerous.
Represented by Chuck Peruto and Fortunato Perri Jr. respectively, their preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 10.
During a dreary Monday morning sitting on a deck in Ocean City, New Jersey, the activist and stand-up comedian also known as N.A. Poe wasn’t ruing the criminal charges that could land him behind bars, though.
Instead – after more than 100 days of radio silence from the oft-gregarious Tamaccio – he spoke with PhillyVoice about a spring and summer of reflection after a raid in which police confiscated some 50 pounds of marijuana, 100 pounds of THC-infused edibles, $50,000 in cash and four handguns from attendees and vendors.
It was a time that left him contemplating the future of the movement in a Pennsylvania preparing for its medical-marijuana age, what his role would be in it, and the essence of life when you know your freedom could soon disappear for years.
“For someone that’s used to moving 5,000 miles an hour and essentially having the emergency brake pulled on me, it’s been an interesting experience,” he said.
“Freedom is the thing that I value above all things. You don’t necessarily ever know that until that freedom isn’t there,” he continued of a realization that manifested itself as “not being able to be involved in the community, and the community being set back because of that to a certain extent.”
“Do I wish that there was a young N.A. Poe who rose up to be able to carry the movement? Sure. But there’s a lot of reasons people don’t want to do that. A lot of times when you stand up like that, you end up in handcuffs. I don’t necessarily think a lot of people are willing to fight for anything to that point.”
If that sounds like a slight of others, it isn’t.
He readily admitted that “at this point, I don’t even know how much I want to do it” anymore as a 37-year-old “with family, close friends. I don’t want to be put into a jail cell for standing up for other people’s rights. It’s kind of hardened me to a certain extent.”
In many ways, it represents a personal evolution beyond the movement’s “Robin Hood” vibe into a pursuit of new directions to make a difference.
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