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More States Need Politicians Like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo


new york governor andrew cuomo cannabisNew York Governor Andrew Cuomo, on the short list of potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidates, certainly energized his progressive base of support during his State of the State before New York legislators this week.  The governor didn’t shy away from potentially controversial issues, including marijuana decriminalization.

This isn’t the first time Governor Cuomo has called on New York legislators to decriminalize personal amounts of cannabis as he had previously informed legislators that he wouldn’t agree to their requested pay increase unless they fully decriminalized personal possession.  Although up to 15 grams of marijuana is currently decriminalized under New York law, public possession is not, so people are getting arrested when marijuana is pulled out of their pockets after being stopped and frisked by law enforcement officers.  Of course, such a policy disproportionately hurts the poor and people of color.

“We are one New York, and as one New York, will not tolerate discrimination.  There is a challenge posed by the stop and frisk police policies.  Roughly 50,00 arrests in New York City for marijuana possession, more than any other possession.  Of those 50,000 arrests, 82% are black and Hispanic.  Of the 82% that are black and Hispanic, 69% are under the age of 30 years old.  These are young, predominately black and Hispanic, males.  These arrests stigmatize, they criminalize, they create a permanent record.  It’s not fair, it’s not right, it must end and it must end now, ” Governor Cuomo stated at the 2013 New York State of the State address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center.

It is refreshing to see a major politician, particularly one that may be weighting a 2016 presidential run, not shy away from common sense marijuana law reform.  While fully decriminalizing 15 grams of marijuana is not the end game for marijuana law reform supporters, as ending prohibition is the ultimate goal, it is a step in the right direction and a policy that will have a positive impact on hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in New York.  Such a policy position by Governor Cuomo also hints that he will have a progressive view on cannabis law reform as a presidential candidate, as the federal government’s position towards states that have legalized medical and recreational cannabis will likely be a very hot-button issue in the 2016 presidential primaries.  We will continue to hold Governor Cuomo, and all potential presidential candidates accountable, but we can only be encouraged by the New York governor thus far.

Republished with special permission from the National Cannabis Coalition


About Author

Anthony Johnson is the director of New Approach Oregon, the PAC responsible for Measure 91, that ended cannabis prohibition for all Oregon adults in 2014. In addition to helping organize the International Cannabis Business Conference & the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference, he also serves as a Board Member of the National Cannabis Coalition, working to legalize cannabis across the country and Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, an organization specifically working to end cannabis prohibition in Missouri. As President of the University of Missouri Law School ACLU Chapter, Anthony co-authored the measures that legalized medical cannabis possession and decriminalized personal possession for all adults within the city limits of Columbia, Missouri, in 2004. Following law school, Anthony practiced criminal defense for two years before working full time in the political field to help improve and protect civil liberties. You can follow Anthony on Twitter and also friend him on Facebook by following the links below as he posts mostly about civil liberties and politics with dashes of sports, music, movies and whatnot.


  1. “Marijuana Addiction”
    LEO is hooked!
    They are now “adjusting”=arresting more whites !

  2. Many of us already are.

    But the “system” discourages this every way they are able, such as enhanced penalties when firearms are located in the presence of a grow.

    Even so, “The Right to Possess” is common ground on which to construct an alliance.

  3. wow just watched the video! Like, yeah man. Obama did you hear this? He is talking to you!

  4. I hope the next generation of politicians think like him. if he legalized NY then other less progressive states my get the courage to do the same. Hope springs eternal

  5. Burlwood Barry on

    a word of caution: Obama in 2004 said we should decriminalize marijuana ( http://youtu.be/wQr9ezr8UeA ) and we all know that as soon as he got elected he totally flip-flopped on that issue, so while we’re encouraged by Cuomo’s words, let’s see his actions too

  6. Don’t be deceived by empty rhetoric from another legacy politician.

    Cuomo’s TRUE colors were revealed with his concurrent proposal to further restrict the rights of New Yorkers to keep and bear arms.

    The ability to utilize cannabis for medicine, food, fuel, fiber & fun is equally sacrosanct with the 2nd Amendment, and for that matter, the entire US Constitution.

    NONE of our rights are to be infringed, bartered away or stolen !

    If Mario’s boy succeeds with his agenda, New York will quickly be reduced to America’s first colony of stoned slaves.

  7. DavidTheExpert on

    I would vote for Cuomo for president, simply because he would be the only democrat or republican candidate I’ve ever seen that is openly in favor of cannabis law reform.

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