On April 20, an informative and festive event titled ‘Smoke Weed Outside Police Station’ was held outside Binghamton Police Station at 38 Hawley Street by local organizations following the legalization of recreational use. of marijuana in New York.
The event was hosted by Progressive Leaders of Tomorrow (PLOT), Truth Pharm, Broome County 100 Black Men, North Side Mutual Aid, Divestment, Accountability, Reinvestment in Our Community (DAROC) Broome County, Justice and Unity for the southern part (JUST) and Citizen Action of New York. The event was intended to celebrate the legalization of marijuana in New York State and to serve as a briefing on the implications of the new legislation for New York residents.
On March 31, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in all places where tobacco can be smoked. The new legislation legally authorizes the recreational use of marijuana and creates an automatic expungement of previous marijuana convictions. This means that anyone with a marijuana charge on their record that is now legal under the new law can have it withdrawn entirely.
Organizers discussed the impact of this legislation on people of color in relation to racial injustice in local and state police departments. About 300 people attended the event on Hawley Street, including students and community members.
According to Khamesi Black, a community organizer for Truth Pharm, the event was meant to bring the community together, celebrate the legalization of marijuana and remind people that the fight for racial justice is far from over.
Black noted that police brutality and killings targeting blacks and Maroons are still an issue that deserves attention. Black cited the recent deaths of Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old boy who was killed by the Chicago Police Department at the end of March, and Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man who was killed. last week by a Minnesota police officer. .
On the same day as the event, Derek Chauvin, the police officer responsible for George Floyd’s death in 2020, was convicted of all three counts he faced, including unintentional second degree murder, murder third degree and second degree manslaughter.
“There’s still no justice here,” Black said, “We had 13-year-old Adam Toledo. We have Daunte Wright, less than 10 miles from where Chauvin’s trial was taking place.
In addition, Truth Pharm aims to de-stigmatize drug use and advocates for harm reduction programs.
“What we’re seeing in opioid users, and even in people who inject, is that cannabis can be a very healthy alternative as they transition into it. [recovery] lifestyle, ”Black said.
Alexis Pleus, executive director of Truth Pharm, added that she hopes this event will help people continue to fight the stigma that often accompanies marijuana use.
“We’re really excited to release this process,” Pleus said. “We know a lot of people smoke, and now they can do it legally. We hope that by hosting this event we will reduce the stigma of substance use. “
Dominic Micalizzi, a local community advocate and sophomore social work student, noted that legalizing marijuana is likely to prove to be a positive law, especially for minority communities.
“I don’t even really smoke weed, but I’m so happy to be here because now the cops can’t use weed as a probable cause to continue policing and imprisoning black people and Brunes, ”Micalizzi said.
According to Salka Valerio, one of the event organizers, it takes a community to get results.
“When they fuck with us, we have to apply pressure,” Valerio said. “And it takes community to do it. Because I can’t go out there and do this on my own, I can’t go and show up with three people, we have to show up with an army, every time something happens. Because this is how we get victory, this is how we get righteousness and this is how we keep our peace.