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.”