Advocates Call For Marijuana Legalization At Washington Square Park Weekend Rally
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Advocates of marijuana legalization rallied in Washington Square Park this weekend, for what they called a “massive action of civil disobedience.”
The rally, which is held annually, culminated in a 4:20 p.m. “smokeout,” in which attendees openly smoked marijuana in the park.
“Marijuana is a natural plant that grows in the ground. There is no reason why it should be illegal,” marijuana legalization advocates said in Facebook post for the event. “All it does is make people hungry and lazy. Is that really so bad?”
Some of the participants, as well as police officers coming to the scene, were captured on photo for the Village Voice. It was not immediately learned if there were any arrests.
Marijuana is not legal for recreational or medical purposes in New York State, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg this past winter announced a policy change in which the city would stop booking and arraigning many people arrested on low-level marijuana-possession charges.
Under the new policy, people who get picked up on charges of having a small amount of marijuana are released with desk appearance tickets if they have ID and no open warrants.
But Bloomberg said this past winter that he opposes legalizing marijuana because it’s stronger than it used to be. He added that if marijuana were legal, drug dealers would just start selling something else, like cocaine.
Last year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana in public statewide.
The move was designed to counter a loophole that considers possession of under 25 grams of marijuana a violation – punishable by a ticket – and possessing it in public, which is a misdemeanor. Under stop-and-frisk, a police officer could ask a person to turn out their pockets, and if they had marijuana in them, by exposing it while complying with the officer, they could be arrested – and get a police record.
Lawmakers did not take up the proposal during state budget negotiations this past winter.
Marijuana was legalized for recreational use in Colorado and Washington State this past November, although it remains illegal under federal law across the country.
The two states are still waiting for a federal response to the votes and are working on setting up commercial pot sales, which are still limited to people with certain medical conditions. In the meantime, pot users are free to share and use the drug in small amounts.
Problems erupted “4/20 rally” in Denver Saturday. A shooting injured two people and scattered crowd of thousands in the Colorado state capital’s Civic Center Park.
The origins of the number “420″ as a code for pot are murky, but the drug’s users have for decades marked the date 4/20 as a day to use pot together.
Do you think marijuana should be legalized, or should it remain illegal? Leave your comments below…
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