Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has reiterated his opposition to marijuana legalization as he continues to deliberate on whether to run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
In a speech at the U.S Naval Academy last Tuesday, Bloomberg talked about drug overdose deaths in the U.S – a consequence of the nation’s opioid epidemic – and then sought to link the issue with the use of cannabis.
“Last year, in 2017, 72,000 Americans OD’d on drugs. In 2018, more people than that are OD-ing on drugs,” he said.
“And today incidentally, we are trying to legalize another addictive narcotic,” he said, referencing marijuana, “which is perhaps the stupidest thing anybody has ever done. We’ve got to fight that, and that’s another thing that Bloomberg Philanthropies will work on it in public health.”
Bloomberg’s statement follows hot on the heels of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) calling for an end to cannabis prohibition, while ten states and Washington D.C. have already legalized recreational marijuana.
Under Mayor Bloomberg, arrests for marijuana possession in New York soared to more than 50,000 a year as a consequence of the controversial “stop-and-frisk” policing tactics he pursued.
Bloomberg: “Medical marijuana is a hoax”
Bloomberg also said in 2013 on WOR radio that medical marijuana was “one of the great hoaxes of all time” and that efforts to legalize cannabis were “wrong-headed.”
If Bloomberg decides to run for the Democrat nomination, it is likely he will be one of the only Democrat candidates to actively oppose marijuana legalization. His position would also set him apart from the vast majority of Democrat voters – 75 percent of whom support legalizing cannabis, according to the most recent Gallup poll.
Speaking on the issue last week at the University of Toronto, Bloomberg said that governments should not pursue legalization, like Canada did last year, until more research has been carried out.
“To go and encourage people—to make it easier for people to engage in a behavior that has a significant possibility of damaging people’s health—is just nonsensical,” Bloomberg said. “This mad, passionate rush to let everybody do things without any research just isn’t something we would do in any other way.”
Meanwhile, in a crowded field, the list of candidates for the Democratic nomination who support marijuana legalization efforts continues to grow. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) are all in favour of legalization.