Speaking bluntly: Cuomo and de Blasio just say no to recreational marijuana

Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio looking like Cheech and Chong
Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio looking like Cheech and Chong
lev radin, a katz/Shutterstock; illustration by Kewen Chen/City & State

Speaking bluntly: Cuomo and de Blasio just say no to recreational marijuana

They both experimented with it – but neither one wants to fully legalize it.
April 11, 2018

Gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon has made one thing abundantly clear: She wants to let people legally smoke pot. She told Wendy Williams, she told The New York Times, she told supporters at a fundraiser. And on Wednesday, she released a video to clear up any lingering confusion about where she stands on recreational marijuana, saying she wants to legalize it to stop the disproportionate arrests of minorities for marijuana offenses.

That position puts her at odds with not only Gov. Andrew Cuomo, her primary rival, but also New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, her friend and a self-described progressive. Indeed, it seems New York’s biggest political frenemies have at least one thing in common: Neither wants to legalize recreational marijuana.

RELATED: Does Cynthia Nixon have a path to victory?

Cuomo had long been opposed to even allowing medical marijuana, but he eventually signed legislation to legalize it on a limited basis. Meanwhile, de Blasio promised to reduce arrests for marijuana possession in his 2013 campaign, a vow he later delivered on. But neither have completely warmed to fully legalizing the drug for recreational use. Below are brief timelines of the two politicos’ stances and policies on marijuana.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

June 21, 2010 – State attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo says he experimented with marijuana when he was younger.

Oct. 24, 2010 – Cuomo says he does not support allowing medical marijuana in New York, comparing it to legalizing prostitution – which he also opposes.

July 20, 2011 – In response to a question about New Jersey’s plan to legalize medicinal marijuana, Cuomo, who has now been elected governor, appears to take a more neutral stance, saying his administration doesn’t have a “final position” as it was still looking at both sides of the issue.

June 4, 2012 – Cuomo introduces legislation to decriminalize the public possession of small amounts of marijuana to close a loophole in the 1977 state law that decriminalized private possession up to 25 grams.

Jan. 9, 2013 – Cuomo calls for the decriminalization of marijuana possession in public view under 15 grams. He says the arrests “stigmatize, they criminalize” and “must end now.”

July 5, 2014 – Cuomo signs the Compassionate Care Act, legalizing medical marijuana for certain qualified conditions.

Dec. 21, 2014 – Speaking on John Catsimatidis’ radio show, Cuomo says he does not favor legalizing marijuana, calling it a “gateway drug.”

Jan. 11, 2017 – Cuomo proposes decriminalizing marijuana possession in public as part of his executive budget.

Feb. 8, 2017 – During a press conference at a casino opening, Cuomo again calls marijuana a “gateway drug,” saying he remains “unconvinced” on legalizing its recreational use.

Nov. 11, 2017 – Cuomo adds post-traumatic stress disorder as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana use.

Jan. 16, 2018 – Cuomo proposes in his executive budget a study on the potential health and economic impacts of legalizing marijuana. He says: “Marijuana – things are happening.”

April 11, 2018 – In response to Nixon’s support for recreational marijuana legalization, Cuomo says the state is not far behind other states and points to the study he commissioned.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

Nov. 10, 2014 – Early in his tenure as mayor, de Blasio directs the New York City Police Department to stop arresting people for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Jan. 7, 2015 – De Blasio says he has not smoked marijuana at Gracie Mansion, and has not smoked at all since his days at New York University.

Sept. 6, 2017 – When asked at a Democratic mayoral primary debate, de Blasio jokingly says that some days he wishes he still did smoke marijuana, while adding that “the laws we have now are the right laws.”

Dec. 15, 2017 – De Blasio tells a group of reporters during a sit-down interview at Gracie Mansion that he opposes legalizing recreational marijuana, but he remains open to studying it.

Jan. 5, 2018 – On Twitter, de Blasio calls U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to enforce federal marijuana laws a “vendetta” against legalized marijuana and an attack on minority communities.

March 7, 2018 – De Blasio defends the NYPD’s enforcement of marijuana arrests after an analysis by Politico New York found racial disparities between marijuana complaints and marijuana arrests.

April 5, 2018 – De Blasio says he is “not there yet” when it comes to legalizing marijuana for recreational use, differing with his wife and political adviser Chirlane McCray, who supports legalization so long as it is “highly regulated.”

Rebecca C. Lewis
is an editorial assistant at City & State.
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