The annual NYC Cannabis Day Parade drew several hundred activists and smokers yesterday to Union Square for an afternoon of speeches, music, camaraderie, and lots and lots of weed.
The festivities began in Herald Square, where a small but passionate group began their march down the bike lane on Broadway, closely controlled (but not overtly harassed) by a contingent of NYPD officers on foot and scooters. There were no arrests.
The marchers were a diverse group, with some seeking to legalize medical marijuana, others demanding broader reforms that would allow recreational use, and still more demanding the complete repeal of all pot laws, thus taking the drug out of the government's hands. As the parade made its way downtown, there were ample opportunities for tourists and locals to cheer the marchers on or shake their heads in disgust, depending. The spectators were thickest around the Flatiron, especially now that Madison Square Eats is open, and it was a bit of a surprise that none of the marchers ducked into the open air food market for a snack.
At one point before the parade began, a gentleman threw dozens of bags of weed into the air, much to the delight of the crowd, though everyone of course already seemed to have plenty of their own supply.
The NYPD ignored this and every other overt display, usage, and enjoyment of cannabis throughout the day. In Union Square, officers stayed a respectful distance away from the action, in stark contrast to the aggressive policing that seemed to be strategy last Wednesday evening at this same location.
People rolled spliffs and passed them around; NYC Council Member Rafael L Espinal gave a speech, among others; educators educated, advocates advocated; performance artist Matthew Silver had a particularly large crew of fellow dancers getting silly with him; and weather-wise it was an exceptionally pleasant afternoon to hang in the park and get high.