New York City third-party mayoral candidate Mike Tolkin, who fervently supports cannabis legalization, spent a week homeless on the streets of New York to raise awareness for income inequality, which grips the city. Tolkin couldn’t bear to see the homeless on the streets without taking action. His week on the streets ended on October 10.
“I think it’s important that people experience what I’m going to be experiencing,” Tolkin told AM New York, just before his week on the streets began. “If I have to beg for food, if I have to do something to get some pocket change then I will do that . . . I hope it will be illuminating for a lot of people.” Tolkin added that you can’t just toss the homeless into shelters and expect everything to get better on its own.
HOME-STAT monitors homeless activity on New York streets. According to its spring quarterly nighttime count, 2,565 people were observed living on the streets citywide from midnight to 4 a.m.
Beyond homelessness, cannabis legalization is also near the top of Tolkin’s to-do list. “Legalizing marijuana is smart economic policy and will help reduce crime in our city,” Tolkin stated on his campaign website. Tolkin has vaped cannabis, but he abstains from alcohol. New Yorkers have endured anti-cannabis mayors, such as Rudy Giuliani, who launched a war on cannabis consumers while serving as mayor. Giuliani oversaw 51,267 arrests for cannabis while mayor of New York City. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on the other hand, was a former cannabis consumer himself, and “enjoyed” it, but now does not consume recreational cannabis.
Tolkin lost the primary to Mayor Bill de Blasio, but is forging along under the Smart Cities ballot. Recent efforts to control homelessness under the de Blasio administration has fallen short, and homelessness has risen to about 40 percent, according to the Homeless Outreach Population Estimate. Tolkin is running up against Incumbent Bill de Blasio, Nicole Malliotakis, Bo Dietl, Sal Alabanese and Akeen Browder.