By Jorge Fuentelsaz
New York, Apr 20 (EFE).- Coinciding with World Marijuana Day, activists and defenders of legalizing pot in New York City on Tuesday were distributing free joints to anyone over age 21 who could prove that they have received at least one dose of one of the Covid-19 vaccines.
“Literally if you have gotten your, you know, Pfizer, or Moderna (injection) or whatever, and you can show the card to us today – prove that you got it – we are then going to give you a free joint,” Todd Hinden told EFE while he distributed joints on Union Square in downtown New York.
Under the equestrian statue of George Washington, who has his arm extended – as a passerby claimed – because he, too, wants to get a joint, Hinden dressed for the occasion in a tuxedo imprinted with green pot leaves and a top hat.
Almost 100 people were waiting their turn with their Covid vaccination cards in hand to receive their joints on Tuesday.
“Today is fun, today is 4/20 (and) we are celebrating marijuana. It’s legal in New York state and it’s good to get people associated with getting the vaccine and getting a free joint,” Bill told EFE as he waited his turn.
The number “4/20” is one that is associated with pot in the United States.
New York legalized pot for medical and recreational use on March 30 after years of discussion and debate in its legislative chambers.
According to authorities, legalizing the drug, which is now legal in 14 other states and Washington DC, could generate $350 million in annual taxes and create between 30,000 and 60,000 jobs.
Its legalization also eases the burden borne by marginalized communities, whose members have suffered the most from police and legal repression of the use of the drug.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said that the legalization of pot was an historic day in the state, one on which mistakes of the past were being corrected and an end brought to harsh prison sentences for people caught with pot in their possession for recreational or medical reasons.
Cameron just got his second dose of one of the Covid vaccines and as he was returning home he learned about the free joint initiative, so he passed by Union Square to get one.
“I just got my second dose today and I knew about this on my way home, so it’s exciting, you know? Things are moving along; we are getting through this,” he said, sporting a colorful red facemask.
Among the organizers of the initiative is pro-marijuana activist Dana Beal, one of the main drivers in 1999 in New York of the Global Marijuana March, which is now held annually on the first Saturday in May.
“We’re giving out a really nice big long fat joint to anyone who could show us (their vaccination card). See this line? These are people who’ve been vaccinated, and they’re coming and getting their joint,” said Beal, who said she hoped that everyone will get vaccinated as soon as possible so that the community can get back to normal and people can go maskless once again.
She said that people could also pick up free donuts or even a beer at various restaurants and eateries around town if they could prove they’d been immunized, but she added that getting a joint is “as American as apple pie.”
Wouldn’t is be marvelous if everyone could get rid of their masks? she asked rhetorically, noting that all anyone has to do is get vaccinated to help bring that about.
At 11:30 am the line was long and the free joint distribution will probably continue until 4:20 pm, in keeping with the 4/20 designation for Tuesday among the pot community, but Hinden said that they’ll have enough pot for anyone and everyone who qualifies for it.
“I don’t know, we did about 2,000 to 3,000 joints probably. And what we’re trying to do is get people aware of the situation and try to get themselves vaccinated and stay healthy and help everybody get back to normal. If there’s ever gonna be a normal,” he said.