This past Saturday the 47th Annual NYC Cannabis Parade and Rally attracted an enthusiastic crowd that openly smoked marijuana despite it being illegal in New York state. The rally was excited to have New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon speak to the crowd at Union Square. It was also nice to see the women in cannabis represented at the event by the networking organization Women Grow and women-owned Etain Health.
Statements from other speakers were as follows:
NY State Senator Jesse Hamilton:
“Nine states and the District of Columbia have decided to legalize and regulate marijuana. By joining these states, New York would allow law enforcement to prioritize real public protection needs. Alongside broken windows policing, our outdated marijuana laws direct police resources, court time and the justice system’s authority at people who are not violent, not dangerous and do not pose a threat to the public. We must continue to work towards the day that New York rejects the deeply flawed policies of the past, embraces sensible reform and passes the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.”
NY State Assembly Member Richard Gottfried:
“We need to move beyond the outdated and broken marijuana prohibition model
to a sensible tax-and-regulate system. But that’s only part of the solution.
Even in states with legal adult marijuana use, there is still evidence of unequal law enforcement practices targeting minority communities. We must ensure that those most victimized by the criminalization of marijuana benefit from the social and political progress around the issue, including reforming criminal justice processes and ensuring widespread participation in the marijuana business boom.”
NYC Council Member Jumaane Williams:
“We must expand out medical marijuana program to include all those who can benefit from its use,” adds Council Member Williams. “We also should rapidly move towards the full legalization of marijuana, expunge state criminal records of past users and create a pathway for all New Yorkers to benefit economically from this industry, not just a select few chosen by the Governor.”
NYC Council Member Donovan Richards:
“It’s a weird time when New York City finds itself to the right of former House Speaker John Boehner, but unfortunately that is where we are with about 17,000 marijuana arrests in 2017. We must stop the practice of flooding our prisons with marijuana offenders and disproportionally impacting communities of color now. Marijuana is not a threat to our public safety and our youth cannot wait any longer as one minor mistake can stick with them for the rest of their life”
Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU):
“I have no doubt that recreational marijuana will soon be legal in New York – as it should be. The criminalization of marijuana has resulted in racial and social injustice because of its disparate enforcement and has denied its use as another tool in the war against opioid abuse. And we need to make sure that when it is legalized that workers in the industry are treated with dignity and respect, and have a union voice. The sooner marijuana is legalized the better.”
The event was founded by the Yippies (Youth International Party) in 1971. It has served as the flagship for the multi-decade mass movement for cannabis legalization and has taken place in various locations around the city over the years, including Washington Square Park, Battery Park and Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. The Event moved to Union Square Park in 2012. The mission of the event is to promote marijuana legalization federally and specifically in the New York Metro area, end discriminatory arrest practices and the mass incarceration of citizens and improve the state’s overly restricted medical cannabis program. The NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally is the founding chapter of the Global Marijuana March, which takes place in hundreds of cities in the U.S. and around the world in May and June.