Hampered by the pandemic and poor weather the last three years, the NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally (NYCCPR) staged a victorious return to a large-scale event on May 6.
After 50 years of protests, the Parade & Rally has officially partnered with Cannabis NYC, an agency within the Small Business Services of the City of New York. The two groups teamed up to provide a full day of activities, from the parade down Broadway to the expanded rally and street festival in Union Square Park to an after-party at the swanky House of Cannabis.
"We are proud to be partnering with NYCCPR for the first time, during a seminal moment in the city’s cannabis history," says Cannabis NYC's founding director and event co-producer Dasheeda Dawson. "Our community partnerships and ongoing interagency collaboration ensure we can strategically capitalize on the restorative justice and economic development opportunities of a legalized market."
"We struck a real victory in New York with legalization, which I pushed the legislature to do. And while there are definitely real changes in implementation in this state, no one - no one! - can take away what legalizing marijuana means as a bellweather in this country.
"Now Congress has to catch up. I'm working on Congress to catch up to New York." Read the full transcript below.
The day began with speeches outside Greeley Square Park at 32 St. and Broadway by Yippie veterans Dana Beal and Aron Key, who received a Certificate of Recognition from City of New York, and others. Certificates were also given to the NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally and Parade Marshal Shiest Budz.
The Parade, headed by the Cannabis NYC float with Shiest Bubz leading the way, followed a zig-zag path along Broadway, passing the historic Flatiron Building en route to Union Square where the rally and street fair in the park kicked off at 1 pm with DJ Greg Caz rocking a mix of classic hip-hop weed tunes.
The park was packed - the north end houses a Green Market on Saturdays that gets really crowded. Add to that the large stage and a couple of dozen tents for Parade & Rally partners in the South Plaza and you had a full house.
MC Dasheeda Dawson reminded attendees the park does not allow smoking and asked them to use the open cobblestone street designated at Union Square Park West. People mostly stayed near the stage or milled around the booths.
"Today represents a new day in cannabis for New York City," she noted. "We are no long hiding in the shadows. Our industry is legal. It is medicinal. It is is nutritional. It is agricultural. It is industrial. And guess what - it is also spiritual. We are here to demonstrate what excellence looks like. Grounded in equity and education, we're going to demonstrate that across business, science and culture. We own the culture in New York City."
Early performances by Baba Israel, Luna Grey and Mr. Puffington built to a crescendo post 4:20 with a short set by Bazaar Royale followed by the headliner M1 and Umi RBG from the conscious rap group, Dead Prez.
The women's panel featuring Cannabis Contol Board chair Tremaine Wright was another highlight as were speeches by elected officals Manhattan Deputy Borough President Keisha Sutton-James, Council Member Carlina Rivera and Sen. Schumer.
"I'm with you all the way," the Senator from Brooklyn concluded. "I can't wait to when we come back to Union Square in the near future and say cannabis has been legalized in all of the United States of America."
Chuck Schumer Transcript
What an amazing site. New Yorkers from every walk of life, every different background, all here today in celebration, enjoying ourselves on this beautifull spring day.
I am proud to be the first Senate Majority Leader ever to say it's time to the end the federal prohibtion on cannabis.
It is time to bring justice to so many Americans whose lives have been ruined by the War on Drugs.
I believe deep in my bones that we're going to get there. There's no stopping this movement. When social activists, entrepreneurs, veterans groups, conservatives and liberals all come together on one issue it's a sure sign our momentum is real.
We struck a real victory in New York with legalization, which I pushed the legislature to do. And while there are definitely real changes in implementation in this state, no one - no one! - can take away what legalizing marijuana means as a bellweather in this country.
Now Congress has to catch up. I'm working on Congress to catch up to New York.
Today, the overwheling consensus in America is that cannabis should be legalized. They say that the states are the laboratories. Well, the laboratories have proven that cannabis legalization works. Let's do it in all of America!
We passed a few bills last year and now we're working on more progress. We're going to have a hearing on cannabis and the SAFE Act in two weeks for the first time and we will put the bill on the floor. God willing we get the votes in committee. And we will add to it expungement of all the records of those who suffered the over-criminalization of marijuana.
The SAFE Banking Act is a good thing. It's going to force growing businesses to no longer operate in only cash. But we need to do social justice and attach it to the SAFE Act and pass it together.
So I'm with you all the way. I can't wait to when we come back to Union Square in the near future and say cannabis has been legalized in all of the United States of America.
Thank you, keep up the fight and We Will Win! (chant)