With all-time high poll numbers, last year’s passage of the MORE Act that would end federal cannabis prohibition, this year’s overwhelming vote for the SAFE Banking Act, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s pledge that a legalization bill will be introduced “soon,” there are many reasons for the cannabis community to be encouraged that Uncle Sam is on the verge of ending the war on cannabis. In a symbolic, but still important move, New York Senator Chuck Schumer made history on May 1st by becoming the first U.S. Senate Majority Leader to speak at a cannabis event when he headlined the NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally. Celebstoner announced that Schumer would be the featured speaker at the annual event, and Rolling Stone provided the coverage:
For decades — long before 4/20 became the unofficial weed holiday — New Yorkers of all stripes have gathered on the first Saturday in May to celebrate marijuana and demand its decriminalization at the NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally. Revelers would flout the law, smoking joints in public, under the assumption that there was a sort of strength in numbers. This year, though, was a little different.
On March 31st, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill to legalize weed — beginning the process of opening recreational cannabis dispensaries in the next year or two, and legalizing adult use and possession immediately. And in an unprecedented move, the state now allows marijuana to be smoked anywhere tobacco is allowed. While that doesn’t include parks — like Union Square, where this year’s march originated on Saturday, May 1st — the cops seemed to let it slide, and as marchers took to the streets, it was perfectly legal for everyone (21-plus) to light up as they walked. This year, those at the rally were even joined by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who pledged to bring federal cannabis legalization “the right way.”
Of course, it is 100% reasonable to be distrustful of most politicians and their promises. However, we shouldn’t let cynicism prevent us from recognizing the advancements that we’ve made. Yes, the Senate Majority Leader showing up to speak at a cannabis rally is simply performative and doesn’t immediately make any tangible changes. However, the fact that that one of the most powerful people in our government is willing to speak at an event that was taboo entirely not that long ago, is a big step forward culturally. We must continue holding Senator Schumer and everyone in government accountable, but we can still appreciate that he was willing to hobnob with the cannabis community in such a visible way.