Last year, Philadelphia decided to start punishing the possession of under 30 grams of pot with a $25 ticket instead of an arrest.

Aw man! Come on, man. Aw man! Photo via iStock.


And there was much rejoicing.

This is how Philly celebrates. GIF from "Rocky"/United Artists.

But also, some questions. Particularly, would curbing arrests spur a rampant epidemic of victorious pot smokers flouting the law and taking their hobby onto the streets?

Would overburdened cops be unable to keep up with the incredible demand for tickets? Would the city descend into a drug-fueled chaos, its government buildings set ablaze, its streets patrolled by roving bands of weed-crazed cannibals?

Philadelphia, one possible outcome. GIF from "Mad Max: Fury Road"/Warner Bros.

Nope. So far, so good.

...according to Tricia L. Nadolny in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Not only are marijuana arrests way down, total run-ins between marijuana users and the law have dipped significantly.

"In the year since the law took effect, arrests have fallen nearly 75 percent.

But the police aren't making up for the drop by doling out tickets. Arrests and citations combined are still 42 percent below the total arrests made by the department in the same time last year, which some say signals a waning interest from the police in penalizing use of the drug."

Yup. Arrests are down. Tickets are down. The city is still standing. And all is well.

The Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, whose name is a bit of an over-promise, if you ask me. Photo by Tim Kiser/Wikimedia Commons.

Philadelphia appears to be another data point in a larger, growing trend of cities successfully lowering the temperature on the War on Drugs.

New York City began curbing arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana back in November 2014. Earlier this year, Gloucester, Massachusetts, launched a groundbreaking program that funnels addicted people into treatment, rather than prison — and the results are looking promising.

...which is good news, as the United States has the largest prison population in the world...

Photo by Dieter_G/Pixabay.

...and drug arrests have a lot to do with that. In 2012, drug crimes were the single highest arrest category in the United States, according to the FBI. Arresting fewer nonviolent drug users equals fewer people who really don't need to be in prison locked up.

It's also potentially good news for people of color, who routinely bear the burden of law enforcement's focus on petty crime.

In a study of traffic stops by 14 different police departments across four states, a blockbuster New York Times report from October 2015 found that black motorists were 1.5 to 5.2 times more likely to be searched for contraband during traffic stops — including drugs — than white motorists and were less likely to actually have it in all but one case.

Limiting marijuana arrests won't solve the problem, but turning police focus toward legit crime could help educe the number of such stops and prevent them from escalating.

There's still a long way to go, but Philadelphia deserves a lot of credit for taking a small, positive step forward.

...and my reaction to it can best be summed up in one word:

Photo by vic15/Flickr.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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