Hundreds of pro-cannabis demonstrators march on May 4, 2002 in New York City. The marchers, who advocate for the legalization of cannabis, were part of almost 200 similar events planned around the world. (Photo credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Cannabis advocates are set to demonstrate in hundreds of cities around the world for the Global Marijuana March on Saturday, May 6.
The annual event, held on the first Saturday in May since 1999, serves as a day for cannabis advocates and legalization supporters to celebrate the plant and push for an end to its prohibition. As legalization efforts ramp up in states and countries around the world and marijuana reform becomes an increasingly visible political issue, Global Marijuana March events are expected to draw large crowds this year.
In states like Illinois, where lawmakers recently introduced legislation to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use, Saturday represents a tangible opportunity to advocate for reform.
Illinois became the 20th state to legalize medical cannabis in 2013, and today there are nearly 20,000 registered patients in the state, according to state records. In 2015, the state decriminalized cannabis possession as well.
“2017 has already been an exciting year for cannabis policy reform in Illinois and we look forward to our continued progress towards our goal of ending cannabis prohibition in the weeks and months to come,” Ali Nagib, assistant director of Illinois NORML, said in a release.
Illinois NORML says the bills (HB 2353/SB 316) introduced by state Rep. Kelly Cassidy and state Sen. Heather Steans “represent a major step towards ending cannabis prohibition.” The organization recently helped launch the new Coalition for a Safer Illinois to support the state’s effort to legalize cannabis for adult recreational use.
To date, eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use, and 29 states have legalized comprehensive medical cannabis programs. Uruguay became the first country to legalize recreational cannabis use in 2013, and Canada is pushing to do the same in 2018. Around the world, at least 20 countries have approved some form of medical cannabis use.