Legalize Now NY held an “evening of music and awareness in support of sensible marijuana laws in NY” at the Bell House in Brooklyn on May 6, and some heavy hitters turned up to support the cause. The night kicked off with Legalize Now NY advisory board member Joseph Bondy greeting the crowd, asking for a show of hands from those who had smoked pot that day. Not surprisingly, the response was overwhelmingly in the affirmative.

Next up was Jason Pinsky of United Cannabis; he spoke eloquently about cannabinoid science, and acknowledged HIGH TIMES’ 40-year contribution to the legalization movement. Pinsky made way for former NYC deputy comptroller Ari Hoffnung, also a Legalize Now NY advisory board member, who spoke passionately about his recent appearance in front of lawmakers in Albany considering a bill to legalize cannabis. City council member Jumaane Williams then fired up the crowd, calling not only for legalizing cannabis, but for allowing the first retail salespeople to be the ones who have sustained the underground market, saying “Black and brown people need to have first crack at the opportunity to sell it in a legal way. We want to get them out of the underground. Legalize it!”

OG weed rapper and HIGH TIMES’ current cover subject Redman then took over the mic and spoke about his years of connection to the herb and to High Times, testifying that his love for weed led him recently to Oaksterdam University, where he learned about the complexities of cannabis and its 400+ compounds. He said that when a strain is named for him, he wants it to be a medicinal, high-CBD plant.

Wrapping up the evening’s speakers were City Council member Rafael Espinal and Arlene Williams, the “Ganja Granny,” who regaled the room with her moving and very funny account of surviving breast cancer; seeking relief after surgery, she found a street dealer named Jesus who introduced her to pot, which she credits with saving her life.

Then Queen Majesty hit the turntables, and DJ Portarock took over as MC for the night. The musical acts were all great -- Lovers Ramone brought the hip-hop energy and delivered a funky, tight set, followed by power-ballad rock from sister act Eris+Harmonia, classic three-piece rock n’ roll from STRNGRS, and awesome old-school sexy punk from Bikini Carwash, whose lead singer Lizzie Steelheart ripped off her shirt to display “Legalize Now” written across her abs. All in all, it was a great night to support legalizing cannabis in New York State. It’s time.