If it smelled a bit more skunky than usual in the city on Saturday, you probably were walking within wafting distance of the annual Cannabis Parade and Rally, which started up in Koreatown and ended with an afternoon of politics and music and getting high in Union Square Park. Because what the march may have lacked in size, it more than up for in number of giant joints smoked.
There were several prominent activists and politicians on hand, including New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, who has made the legalization of marijuana one of the primary promises of her campaign. Council Member Jumaane Williams, who is running for Lieutenant Governor, also spoke from the stage at Union Square, and both he and Nixon emphasized the appalling racial disparity among marijuana arrests, with blacks and Latinos ten times more likely to get busted for pot than whites.
Nixon also promised to prioritize neighborhoods of color when granting licenses to sell legal weed, and Williams demanded that any legalization laws include provisions for releasing prisoners currently under sentence for dealing pot, and expunging all records. Some of those in attendance wanted to keep government licenses–and tax collectors–out of the equation entirely by making weed “lawful” rather than legal. Like, say, corn.
There was an NYPD escort for the length of the parade, and plenty of officers at Union Square, but they stayed on the edges of action. And despite the seriousness of the speeches, the general mood of the crowd was more festive than angry, a celebration of cannabis culture that involved plenty of partaking. As Williams said looking out at the gathering, “You look like a bunch of troublemakers out there, and I love troublemakers.”