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New Politics Of Marijuana Legalization On Display In New York City


new york city marijuana mayor raceFor decades, politicians tried to outdo one another when it came to being “tough” on drugs. Scared of attack ads about being “soft on crime,” elected officials would elbow each other out of the way to be seen as the toughest drug warrior in the room, and would run far, far away from efforts to reform laws that penalize the possession and sales of marijuana and other substances.

But because voter attitudes, as demonstrated in several recent major polls, have so rapidly and markedly shifted in the pro-reform direction in recent years, many savvy elected officials are now trying to out-legalize one another. It’s a new and refreshing position for drug policy reformers to find ourselves in.

Take the intense race for New York City mayor that is now underway, for example.

This week we saw current NYC comptroller and Democratic candidate John C. Liu issue a report endorsing the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana sales.

“New York City’s misguided war on marijuana has failed, and its enforcement has damaged far too many lives, especially in minority communities… Regulating marijuana would keep thousands of New Yorkers out of the criminal justice system, offer relief to those suffering from a wide range of painful medical conditions, and make our streets safer by sapping the dangerous underground market that targets our children. As if that weren’t enough, it would also boost our bottom line.”

And Liu isn’t the only candidate in the race endorsing marijuana reform. Other Democrats like NYC Public Advocate Bill De Blasio and NYC City Council Speaker Christine Quinn have endorsed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to close the so-called “public view loophole” that allows police officers to arrest people for having marijuana in public even though possession is technically decriminalized in New York State. Former Congressman Anthony Weiner is also getting in on the no-arrests-for-marijuana action, detailing his position in a new campaign brochure:

“End Arrests for Small Amounts of Marijuana. These arrests serve no purpose; they worsen NYPD/community relations, create criminal records that ruin lives, and waste the time and energy of officers who should be fighting serious crime.”

While current Mayor Michael Bloomberg hasn’t exactly been a friend to marijuana reform over the years (he recently, for example, made fun of the notion that marijuana has medical benefits), he has backed Gov. Cuomo’s proposal on ending arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana in public, the same position many of the Democratic candidates have.

Like Liu, former NYC City Councilman Sal Albanese also supports legalization. On the Republican side of the race, NORML reports that only former NYC Deputy Mayor John Lhota has taken a formal position on marijuana issues, which is to support legalization.

Hopefully the massive amount of press and positive attention that Liu’s newly announced pro-legalization position is generating this week will induce more of the candidates to take note that the political winds on this issue have shifted and will embolden them to get on board with endorsing the complete end of marijuana prohibition.

As a nonprofit public education organization, Marijuana Majority does not and cannot endorse or oppose candidates for elected office. The above post represents news analysis about the changing political and social dynamics surrounding marijuana reform issues, and should not be construed as an endorsement of any candidate.

Source: National Cannabis Coalitionmake a donation


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Tom Angell is chairman of Marijuana Majority (http://MarijuanaMajority.com). http://MarijuanaMajority.com


  1. We’ve been wanting that for YEARS, but the Federal Govt. has the patent on Medical Cannabis and won’t RELEASE ANY OF their product to be studied. Therefore effectively ELIMINATING any chance for a study to be performed! These Universities AREN’T ALLOWED to just go to a dispensary and BUY some to study. The University would LOSE ALL FEDERAL FUNDS. I guarantee you that they won’t EVER risk that possibility. Secondly, since Cannabis it
    is an HERB, those don’t require FDA approval. I know damned well that WE would want NOTHING LESS though as a Cannabis patient. However, THEY (Fed Govt.) in NO WAY WANT that to happen because they’ll HAVE to ADMIT that they’ve been LYING to the population, KNOWINGLY for over 70 years!

  2. Why not let medical marijuana go through the FDA approval process like every other legitimate medication? What other medicine do you know of thats put to a public vote?

  3. The Politicians seem to enjoy banning the vaporizers.. if they ban one, they automatically ban all. If NY bans the electronic cigarette, the Medical Marijuana vaporizers will be in the same dire straights. Unless they have the manpower to analyze every vaporizer they see vaporized, they will conclude whatever suits their budget.

    Fight the bans!

    For more info, check out CASAA.org who just finished fighting Senator Corbetts Calif ban bill648 (with CaNORML’s help, thank you!!) and is fighting NY’s ridiculous bill at the same time. http://blog.casaa.org/2013/04/call-to-action-new-york-city-ordinances.html

  4. Charles Edson Rogers Jr. on

    Gov Cuomo is the sole reason we do not have medical cannabis in NY..he and Bloomberg are Doctors now.POS that they are!!

  5. The greed of a few rich industrialist used marijuana to remove hemp from the open market but the greed of many will take this miraculous plant back from them.

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