take your empty Evian: Patches, Bottle Bill supporter.
Photo by John Whipple.
is still illegal in all forms in New York—and just about everywhere
else in the world, except Amsterdam—but tomorrow (Friday,
May 2), hundreds will gather in Albany looking to change that.
Albany’s rally, organized in coordination with the Global
March for Cannabis Liberation, will feature a variety of speakers,
bands and information tables discussing a number of marijuana-related
issues, including the legalization of marijuana for medicinal
purposes, decriminalization and the war on drugs. The perennial
push for cannabis liberation, now 31 years old, is being carried
out this year in more than 200 cities across the globe—from
Abbotsford, British Columbia, to Zürich, Switzerland.
The New York state drug-policy reform group ReconsiDer organized
the local rally.
war on drugs is America’s most costly and longest-running
public policy failure,” said ReconsiDer member Michael Roona.
“We need to promote discussions of policy alternatives, and
this rally is a forum to do just that. We’re not endorsing
any particular position on medical marijuana or sentencing
reform or any other issue, but we’ve created a forum for everyone
who has a perspective, so they can speak to the issues as
they see them.”
The rally will begin at the Capitol at noon and will go until
6 PM, with open-mike segments between the scheduled speakers
and bands. Participants will be allowed to sign up to perform
or make personal statements on marijuana-related topics and
the drug war.
One of the day’s scheduled speakers is Warren Redlich, an
Albany lawyer and a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives
21st Congressional District in 2004. Redlich’s message is
for marijuana users to end the finger-pointing and engage
in more constructive forms of social change to meet their
message to the people who agree that the drug war is wrong
is that we have to stop placing blame on people like our president
and the police,” said Redlich. “The ultimate responsibility
comes down to the people and voters who keep voting for them
and allowing them to be doing what they are doing.
great to hold a rally and talk to a bunch people that agree
with us, but we need to talk to people that don’t agree with
us,” Redlich said. “We have to talk to our fellow churchgoers
and our neighbors to try to change minds.”
the Good of the Earth
Earth Day came and went while state legislators were on their
two-week spring recess, hundreds of environmentalists took
to the Capitol on Monday (April 28) to bring attention to
a number of statewide environmental issues.
A number of speakers called for the immediate closure of Entergy’s
Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, 35 miles north
of New York City. Critics—including one of the plant’s former
security guards—have long claimed that security at Indian
Point is inadequate and fear that it could be a target for
future terrorist attacks.
really care about closing Indian Point,” said Jeff Jones of
Environmental Advocates New York, which helped organize the
lobby day. “We had a bunch of people up from Westchester County
who are very active in the campaign, and in fact both reactors
are shut down right now for two different reasons. So the
idea that the world will come to an end if Indian point is
shut down doesn’t really hold up.”
One of the more visible issues being lobbied for was the “Bigger,
Better Bottle Bill,” an expansion of the state’s returnable
containers law to include a nickel deposit on noncarbonated
beverages like bottled water and iced tea. The money collected
from unreturned containers—currently harvested by the bottling
industry—would be taken by the state and used to fund municipal
Representatives from the New York Public Interest Research
Group presented Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan)
and Sen. Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno (R-Brunswick) with
5,000 signatures from more than 250 citizen and environmental
groups urging the legislators to adopt an expanded bottle
bill to ease the strain of New York’s current fiscal crisis—the
state budget is approximately $11.5 billion in the red this
year and nearly a month late.
the Senate and the Assembly are passing their budgets, and
as far as I know they do not include the $172 million annually
that the expanded bottle bill would generate,” said Laura
Haight of the New York Public Interest Research Group. “They
still haven’t seen the light. It is public money that the
Legislature has chosen not to take advantage of.”
Rally attendees also urged the state’s elected officials not
to weaken standards for the state’s Superfund, and to restore
its funding levels—the program, which funds environmental
clean-ups, has been bankrupt for the past two years. The lobbyists
were also looking to modify state laws regulating power plants,
calling for stricter pollution controls and more public participation
in the siting process.