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February 24, 2016

Pro-cannabis advocate reacts to pot's exclusion from Philadelphia Flower Show

'Marijuana is a gorgeous flower. And, this is a show celebrating flowers,' says PhillyNORML's Chris Goldstein

The Philadelphia Flower Show returns next month – with a focus on the National Park Service – and with it comes thousands of blooming flowers and all variety of flora and fauna. 

Except one notable flower, that is. 

One that just might be the most profitable plant in all of the country. 

"It's arguably the most lucrative flower in the county," PhillyNORML's Chris Goldstein said of cannabis. "Colorado made a billion off it last year. I'm not sure that roses made that much." 

Proponents of cannabis – weed, bud, pot, or whatever you'd call it in your preferred vernacular – had hoped to have a booth to showcase the plant's medicinal benefits, history and facts about its growth at this year's flower show, which runs March 5-13 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. 

But, that was not to be. 

Aside from the obvious reason the plant can't be at the show – it's illegal, duh – Goldstein said that the booth would have included photos of cannabis flowers and a brochure of information about the plant. 

Philadelphia Horticulture Society spokesperson, Alan Jaffe, said that the group who had hoped to secure the booth – Green Rush Advisors – "didn't work within the guidelines of the flower show." 

While he had earlier told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the group had "misrepresented" their intentions, on Wednesday, Jaffe said the group's removal from the show was an honest misunderstanding.

“This was an honest misunderstanding. It involved a rapidly changing conversation and a number of parties. There was no intent to misrepresent or mislead anyone by either party," he said in a released statement. "It simply wasn’t a formula that could work within our guidelines at this time."

In a press statement, Skip Shuda, CEO of Green Rush Advisors, said they would have enjoyed being a part of the show. 

“It would have been an honor to introduce one of mankind’s oldest therapeutic plants at the prestigious Philadelphia Flower Show," Shuda said. 

Goldstein said his group, PhillyNORML, had made a push to get volunteers to help staff the booth, which would have included information about the plant, but refrained from political statements regarding the legalization issue. 

"Certainly, nobody was misrepresenting what was happening," he said. "Volunteers would have been told not to get political." 

Instead, he said, the main part, that is used for its medicinal qualities, is the flower of the cannabis plant, making the annual show an ideal place to share information about the plant's medicinal benefits. 

"Marijuana is a gorgeous flower," he said. "And, this is a show celebrating flowers." 

According to Goldstein, similar marijuana-friendly booths have appeared at farm shows throughout the state in the past and, it has never been a cause for concern.

In fact, he said, as an issue that can boast a healthy amount of support from the public, medical marijuana is something he believes the public would have enjoyed learning more about. 

And, Goldstein said, there's likely no better place for people to learn facts about cannabis than at the flower show. 

"Quite simply, this is a plant," he said. "Cannabis deserves its place as a beautiful plant and it should share a place among the wonderful plants at the flower show."