The Happy Munkey crew made our way to the New York State Capital up in Albany for the 2020 Start SMART N Y & N O R ML N Y Cannabis Lobby Day! We had an inspirational time in Albany seeing the New York Cannabis community from far and wide come together to voice support for Cannabis legalization. Before hitting the halls of the capital, we met in the capital’s lunch room to game plan our lobbying efforts. We then were divided into groups based on the New York county we resided in, and team lead - ers were appointed to help guide us from the various meetings with state politicians. Our friends at High Mi Madre, Pilar DeJesus and Emily Ramos fearlessly led our team into the capital chanting and holding signs that proudly read “We Want Home Grow” & “We Need Consumption Lounges”.
For those who do not know, the 2020 New York legislative session began back on January 8th and will continue until it’s close in June. This year New York has the special opportunity of making up for the last legislative session’s short fall to legalize cannabis in the state. Last year New York came extremely close to legalizing cannabis for recreational adult use but ultimately balked. Cannabis legalization was added to this year’s draft of the N Y Budget, making it very possible New York might actually take the green leap and make way for legal recreational adult-use cannabis . The final budget vote is in early April, and until then the fight is on like Donkey Kong.
Our first stop was Assemblymen Daniel J. O’Donnell’s office, where we were met with a warm reception and handshakes from O’Donnell. After making introductions and explaining how important cannabis legalization is to us, O’Donnell shared his support of the legalization movement! He also added that he rarely sees people from his district make the trek to Albany, and how much of an impact it makes to meet the people he represents . The next stop was State Senator Brian A. Benjamin office’s. Unfortunately senator Benjamin wasn’t available but we were able to meet with his aide Phil Giltner. Giltner applauded our lobbying efforts and encouraged us to continue! Giltner also explained that while Senator Benjamin is not outright against the proposed budget bill, he warned that social equity and safeguarding the rights of Black and Brown people is of the upmost priority.
Our next stop was the scheduled press conference on the 3rd floor of the capital. As we walked down the halls of the capital building towards the press conference the sounds of pro cannabis chants started to ring out. We followed the voices until we got to an ornate large stairwell and a podium, filled with the all the other groups of NY canna-activists we met with earlier standing behind it. We joined the crowd on the stairs adding to the back drop of cannabis concerned individuals, and the press conference began shortly after. We heard from patients and advocates alike that spoke on the negative medicinal and social impacts of continuing to wrongly and improperly treat cannabis like a dangerous drug. The words shared were extremely powerful and it was truly inspiring to see the New York cannabis community show out and support a singular cause.
We ended our day by protesting cannabis prohibition the first way we ever learned to, by smoking it! A group of us made our way to the steps of the Capital building and all participated in the #MunkeyChallenge. From cannon sized joints filled with that sweet sweet NY Haze, to hits of solvent-less dabs of Dinosaur Food off the Puffco Peak, we indulged in cannabis the way we know it should be allowed and one day will be! We don’t always get the privilege to see the amazing work and culture the rest New York State, outside the city, has been developing, but during Lobby day we did! To sum it up with the words of Alex a Cannactivist from upstate New York, “I definitely felt the culture today”!
For those of you at home there has never been a more important time to get involved! Making it up to Albany like we did is definitely one way to show your support for cannabis legalization, but there are plenty of other ways to get your voice heard! Something as simple as Googling “My Local Representatives In Albany”, will lead you to a long list of links that will help you effortlessly find and directly contact the politicians representing you in New York. Our biggest piece of advice is do not ever think any one action is too small to make a difference! Go outside, get your voice heard, and keep fighting for cannabis liberation! We know no one is simply a one-issue activist, but without our politicians hearing the concerns of the people that put them in office, we can not legalize the cannabis plant! If you would like to find out more ways to get more involved or tag along with Happy Munkey on our next trip up to Albany make sure to reach out!