About a hundred weed-loving activists took to the streets of Manhattan on Saturday for a smoky, spirited march from Koreatown to Union Square. The Cannabis Parade, which has been held in some form or another since the early 1970s (though last year's event was canceled due to the pandemic) was the first since marijuana was legalized in New York State, a cause for celebration for participants. But many marchers insisted that the fight was not over.

Nikolas Schiller, one of the founding members of New York Marijuana Justice, was on hand to emphasize the need for "legalization without commercialization," which can only be achieved when all adults are allowed to grow as much pot as they want. "No one cares about how many tomatoes you grow," said Schiller. "It should be the same for cannabis."   

Allison Vivattanapa, of Decriminalize Nature NYC, agreed. "There is absolutely still stuff to fight for," she said. "There are a lot of gray areas in the law surrounding cultivation. Growing should be immediately legal."   

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The parade made its way down Broadway and Park Avenue in lovely spring weather, and what the marchers may have lacked in sheer numbers they more than made up for in their enthusiasm for smoking an incredible amount of weed before, and after, noon. There was even a float of sorts: a giant inflatable joint that read "Legalize, Liberate, Expunge" on one side, and "Biden, Come On Man!!!" on the other.     


The latter was a demand for the federal government to follow the lead of an increasing number of states, and speaking at the rally in Union Square, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke of the need for federal action on the issue.

“We’re going to put forward advanced, comprehensive cannabis reform legislation that will not only turn the page on this sad chapter in American history, but undo the devastating consequences of these discriminatory and often bigoted policies,” Schumer said.   

New York State Attorney General Letitia James also spoke at the Union Square rally, and highlighted the economic opportunity presented by legal weed, both in directing tax revenue to communities that need it most, and in marijuana-related small businesses run by people of color.

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"We all know that the War on Drugs has for far too long been a war on poor people and people of color, and simple legalization is not enough to right those wrongs," James said. "It's important that we focus on communities that have been devastated by this war."