On Saturday, May 4th 2019 one of the longest-running annual marijuana legalization events in the world, the NYC Cannabis Parade and Rally, returned to New York City.
Parade participants marched down Broadway and rallied in Union Square where they listened to musical line ups including the High & Mighty Brass Band and SCRIBE The Verbalist, elected officials, and activists.
NY State Assembly Member Richard Gottfried (D-District 75, Manhattan) is sponsoring a bill to loosen restrictions of the current law and is fighting for the legalization of all forms of cannabis, “This is about something really serious. The reason I prefer the term adult use rather than recreational use is because to me this is not a fight about people having a good time. This is a fight about the fact that our criminal law has been wrecking the lives of tens of thousands of people right here in New York for decade after decade and that’s got to stop.”
Gottfried criticized that under the current law many patients have a difficult time obtaining a medical marijuana card. The law which was passed in 2014 comes with heavy restrictions compared to other states in the country. Qualifying patients have to be referred by a registered medical marijuana physician, and referrals often are associated with high costs in addition to the cost of the medical card. Ten companies are allowed to grow and dispense medical marijuana in New York, and each registered organization can open up to only four dispensaries in the state selling a limited line of costly products.
Albany is close to getting the law passed, and Gottfried wants to include legislation that also allows growing cannabis at home. He recalled the time when he and a friend in junior high school were brewing beer and wine in their bedrooms. “You want to make beer and wine at home and under New York law that’s perfectly legal. It ought to be legal for people who want to grow their own at home to do that too. That’s something we need to add to the adult use legislation.”
Gloria Mattera, Co-Chair of the Green Party of New York, pointed out that the Green Party is the only political party that has been calling for not only legalization of marijuana but also reparations. “I’m glad that some of the politicians are starting to come around about legalization but let’s be honest progress is slow, and motives are suspect.” She urged to get rid of the old laws and start from the beginning and called out NY State Governor Cuomo. “Governor Cuomo and the legislature are opening a path for a new industry that is going to be influenced by corporate domination.”
Addressing the disproportionate number of marijuana-related arrests of minorities compared to white people in NYC, 89% of all New Yorkers arrested for smoking marijuana last year through Nov. 23, 2018, were either black or Hispanic, Co-Chair Mattera continued, “Remember cannabis as a business can flourish, but the rules are still on the books so that the police can arrest whoever they want to whenever they want to. We can not tolerate any old cannabis laws being used by the police to make arrests indiscriminately. We have already seen the unfair treatment of our black and brown young people. Lives ruined, families torn apart, communities devastated.”
The Green Party demands that people can grow cannabis for personal use and supports only organically grown and GMO-free crops.
Supporters for the full legalization of marijuana, including New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, want to have the records of those who have been arrested and jailed for marijuana offenses erased. They are also demanding that the communities who have been ravaged by over-policing are going to receive the same opportunity to grow and sell cannabis as multi-million dollar businesses registered at the NY Stock Exchange. Gloria Mattera, “Cannabis cannot be the victim of big pharma, or big agriculture, or be the ATM for the State coffers by paying high taxes for people who grow.”
Photos of the event: