New York Governor Cuomo: We Need To Fully Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

In an unprecedented and frankly unexpected political move yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo held a press conference and announced that he supports legislation to amend and modernize New York’s thirty-four year old cannabis ‘decriminalization’ laws.

The state and national press reaction has been both overwhelming and uniformly positive. Even Mayor Michael Bloomberg and long-serving NYPD chief Raymond Kelly, the barely cloaked targets of Cuomo’s actions for their overly aggressive and racially disparate enforcement of cannabis laws in New York City over the last decade, have publicly stated that they too support Governor Cuomo’s call for change in cannabis laws in New York.

My own speculation is that Governor Cuomo, eying the Democratic nomination to the  U.S. presidency in 2016, wants to properly position himself as a bona fide cannabis law reformer as cannabis law reform is actually a very popular political topic among the American electorate as approximately seventy-five percent of the public supports medical access to cannabis; seventy-three percent support decriminalization cannabis use and possession; and now fifty percent of the public supports outright cannabis legalization.

You know the end of Cannabis Prohibition is on the near horizon when ascending politicians believe the need for beefing up on their cannabis law reform successes is a necessary prelude to run for president.

Apparently, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell and Drug Policy Alliance director Ethan Nadelmann agree too with my speculations about Governor Cuomo…

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65 thoughts

  1. How is he a cannabis reformer when he says he will veto any medical marijuana bill. Unless he has changed his position on that as well

  2. I also wonder what deal was struck with the mayor and police chief to get them on board. Politics is a surreptitious business, and those old pros didn’t switch gears for free. Still, this is a stunning development–another crack in the drug war orthodoxy.

  3. Politicians that continue to support draconian and unjust drug policies will find themselves among the 8-10% unemployed seeking unemployment benefits. Ita time for a sensible drug policy based on public health research and practices!

  4. I read about this yesterday . Progress is slow but at least we’re moving forward toward decriminalizing the possession of cannabis . There shouldn’t be any penalties .
    This morning i found this clip . This shows you the ignorance & plain stupidity of prohibitionists .Here’s a guy smoking cigarettes while destroying a marijuna field .

  5. Governor Cuomo is a good man with good intentions.

    It is sad that I cannot say the same about Mayor Bloomberg or Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Those two are the main people responsible for the ridiculous racially motivated crackdown that has been going on in New York!

  6. Here’s another most stupidist comment ever regarding this new law ( if passed )

    Mr. Cuomo said changing the law was a better approach in the long term, saying, “I think it puts the police in an awkward position to tell them, enforce some laws, don’t enforce other laws.”

    How stupid ! That’s like saying…enforce murders but don’t enforce people who don’t murder or arrest bank robbers but don’t arrest bank robbers that don’t rob banks .

  7. OK folks its time to make a stand.

    The only thing that can get things done is money and votes. Most of us have voting rights, some have money. If ya have some money to spare – contribute to Normal or a like organization and/or email this message to your elected officials and stand firm. Also send to like minded friends and family:

    To the President, Members of the US Congress, State and local elected officials:

    Criminal marijuana prohibition is a failure. Over 20 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana offenses since 1965 with over 800,000 arrests in 2010 and each year the number increases. The problem is getting worse – not because of the benign plant, but because of the obsolete laws. The time has come to amend criminal prohibition and replace it with a system of legalization, taxation, regulation, and education.

    I can no longer vote for elected officials that support the the current laws. I have decided not to vote for any politician that does not publicly support the removal of all penalties for the private possession and endorse responsible use of marijuana by adults, including cultivation for personal use, and casual nonprofit transfers of small amounts.


    Voting Citizen
    & Member of the Movement

  8. It’s still inconsistent. I can have up to 25 grams but it’s illegal to grow and buy it…. Did it fall like mana from heaven to my hands? Wtf over?! Legalize it already! De-schedule, not reschedule; get wth the program!

  9. To norml. cant share this with people in GA. I go to send in the pop up. I type to send then my email, but nowhere to click send. something is wrong.

  10. OK, OK, I”m actually stunned about this. I’m on top of this type of news and who supports what. I did not expect this at all. I live in new york. I”ve heard Cuomo compare medical marijuana to Prostitution, which is pretty asinine, Bloomberg and Kelly have ALWAYS defended this law saying it “Kept the streets safe” I”m dumbfounded by this dramatic turn of events

  11. Would there be any “drug crime” on record, from the ticket being issued? Also, what if the consumer wishes to purchase through the mail; is that a separate crime, perhaps punishable by federal law? What about non-public view, personal possession within a school zone; does this law still protect people from arrest in that situation?

  12. I have a dream – its very simple. Our elected officials (federal,state and local) should be required to take drug tests like any American getting a new job or like other public employees such as firemen and police who are subject to periodic on going tests. Let them get a taste of prohibition and the police state. Things may change. DEMAND DRUG TESTING OF PUBLIC OFFICALS!!

    Just think of the jobs it will create.

  13. This is great to hear, to be honest i never thought Coumo would have a change of heart.

    But to be honest, i believe when everyone looks back to this moment, and Cuomo begins to sign the full decriminalize marijuana act. This will be the start of things to come, and others will follow suit. We need to really throw a lot of support behind Cuomo,Bloomberg, and especially the police department, this is a united effort and not a divided effort we see in most states doing these things.

    You see people we are on the way, but this does not mean we are out of the clear. We need to keep donating, the more states with decriminalization and legalization the better.

    I hope we can have Illinois and New Hampshire agree to these things. In my personal opinion Illinois will be the most important because it is in Obama’s home state when he was a senator.

    Truthfully If we can get an extra one for Florida and Tennessee. The entire legalization in congress will be within grasp. We are so close, do not give up people.

  14. i cannot believe the feds will go along with this but it is AWESOME….but, i am bothered folks….why are they targeting african and latino …men?… they not want to admit that their are a multitude of color and and women as well (like it matters what the hell color or sex) we all breathe the same(green) is so friggen matter, the info is out and , its great…i hope it moves people to get up and speak reasonably about the GOOD in the remedy…thank you NEW YORK!!

  15. Sweet! Why doesn’t he just sign MMJ legislation into law to allow California-style in New York state? None of this Chris Christie shit!

    Keep running the economy into the ground until cannabis is legalized.

    The revenue stream needs to be traded on stock exchanges.

    It’s the right thing to do.

    There’s so much death and suffering under cannabis prohibition. The investor class cares. Where the hell else are you going to get the money from people who actually want to pay taxes? You know you need this money to fund state pensions. No other sector is saying oh yes, tax me, I want to pay taxes.

  16. This is great news. You know I really don’t care if Andrew Cuomo is using this as part of his reelection strategy. I actually think that would help our cause. I think we should take this stance on all incumbents wanting to be reelected. Let them know we will totally support those who make it clear that they are for decriminalization of cannabis. As well as letting those who do not support our cause, are in jeopardy of losing their positions. We have the numbers on our side now.

  17. This is fantastic news, but certainly unexpected. Still waiting to hear either Obama or Romney discuss marijuana legitimately. With both Colorado and Washington looking favorable for legalization this year, 17 medical marijuana states, and now the largest city in the country calling for stronger decriminalization, this topic can no longer be ignored.

  18. Gary Johnson the libertarian candidate for pres openly supports the legalization of cannabis and the end of the ear ok drugs. Gary Johnson 2012!

  19. i think its awesome cuomo took this step, although i do agree some sketchy polotics is going on in NYC. i thin that the upstate folks can pull together and make this happen for the state. i know for a fact that marijuana is huge in Upstate NY consumption and cultivation. if grass could be legalized completely. like another post said “de-schedule not re-schedule” i think that it would greatly cut down on the billions of dollars wasted trying to bust illegal pot cultivation and possesion. this cut down would probly be large enough to close up NY’s huge fucking budget gap. take that and smoke it Washington D.C.

  20. Where is PA? I wonder how many PA politicians are on board for decrim. It has been too long for prohibitionists to step up on this issue in PA.

  21. “their overly aggressive and racially disparate enforcement of cannabis laws in New York City over the last decade”

    ‘racially disparate’ – I keep hearing Anslinger’s words before congress, “The main reason for making marijuana illegal is its effect on the degenerate races.”

  22. I can still lose my job if I smoke on Saturday and get tested on Monday. We can’t stop the fight until its legal. So call or write just do something to push it along. Don’t wait for someone else to say something you say it.

  23. Life should be enjoyed. Legalizing pot would help immensely with that. Even a poor person could feel rich for a few hours if they toked even 1 dime bag $10.

  24. Decriminalization is NO SUBSTITUTE for legalization. REMEMBER: prohibition started with a LIE.

  25. It’s obvious, Tobbaco kills 150,000 people every year.Marijuana has never killed anyone!Of course we need change!

  26. It’s never been a good idea to incarnate people for smoking marihuana. On the other hand: marihuana was and is a harmful drug (a fact marihuana users will certainly deny) and the best way to get along in life is with a clear head.

  27. I agree decrim is not the same as legalization, but over time these decrim laws will get better and better. Look at NY and Alaska. Also, don’t forget that decrim is what the Netherlands have.

  28. I took a picture of Mike Bloomberg as a spokesman for NORML in 2002. The poster was on the back of a NYC bus and I have never submitted it before for publication. LaGuardia tried to legalize pot when he was mayor but did not succeed. Prohibition did not work either Wouldn’t it be nice if common sense could rule?

    VA Hospitals in 14 states give away free grass to vets who could be helped by this natural, organic ingredient. Why is it not legal in the other VA Hospitals across the nation. Did these vets serve in some other military service? Legalize medical marijuana — decriminalize the rest.

    It’s almost 100 years since lawmakers in Texas first made grass a crime. They couldn’t stand Mexican workers enjoying themselves after work. What’s new.

  29. and yet…not a word of this has been heard on npr, nor have any hints of this reached any of my local news in Minnesota, whether he changed his mind or not, the media doesn’t seem to want anybody else out of new york to know

  30. looks like we got a little off topic here, we need to have a massive smoke out (or something) to let other Americans know that millions of law abiding citizens just want to enjoy a harmless plant to un-wind and for those who actualy need the THC and the CBD for medical reasons can get it

  31. and did anyone see the front page? the states are jumping on the weedwagon left and right, only 1 week after Connecticut gives mary j the okay, New Hampshire is saying its ok too! the states are folding over like a newspaper….they want their tax $$$ so once its decriminalized/legalized/medicinalized both taxed and un-taxed pot will be readily available and the people and the MAN will get what they want

  32. Great talk but the real deal is in the passing of legislation. If the system cannot corporatize Cannabis it will demonize Cannabis.

  33. So next year in NY City you will be able to toke up almost an O, blow through a dozen doughnuts but the second you try to wash them down with a big gulp you have crossed the line? I find it hard to believe that a mayor who’s outlawing sugary drinks will back this in anything but talk only. I.e. Don’t put to much faith in the words of politicians, they SAY a lot of things.

  34. I believe its time for the State of Texas and the Federal Govt. to take a good look at the need to decriminalize the cannibis plant and to allow the medical community and patients who need cannibis to use it in peace as intended by God all our plants be used, instead of in the constant stress struggle of fighting those who don’t understand the medical cures of Cannibis, it’s time people just like the peyote to the American Indian, its time to give Ordinary Americans the rights to use of our plants also without facing the perils of the overpopulated prisons and jails, due to this plant. I say, decriminalize and release the ;prisoners.

  35. I think that this is wonderful news for all of us here in New York State. Finally, you have a few politicians with the gonads and no how to throw some of their own money at the proposition. Everyone, police, politicians, and doctors wide and far believe cannabis should be completely legal. I give two thumbs up to Cuomo!

  36. Thank you to California’s Oaksterdam, for opening our governments overly watchful and protective eyes to the obvious idea that taxing this like they are already doing to cigarettes is a highly economical approach. Thank God, all these states are doing this too. They are all learning that money is tight and this is the solution. This is the very reason I jumped into NORML reform, I have been an avid toker for the better part of a decade. It treats every single condition I have. I don’t need pharmaceutically enhanced chemicals, pills, or SSRIs. There is nothing chemical about marijuana, it is 100 percent plant matter. I rest my case.

  37. If we want to reduce the profits to drug gangs what needs to be done is decriminalizing supply. This could be through all out legalization that lets tobacco companies fire up the pot-making factories they supposedly have waiting in the wings. Or it could be done by legalizing small home operations. Either way, it is important to take the supply out of the criminals’ hands.
    I support decriminalizing demand even though it may put more money in the pockets of drug dealers in the short-run. For one thing, like paternalists who want to take everything unhealthy from us, I think marijuana laws are subject to substantial slippery slopes. I think the loosening of demand side laws will help lead us to the loosening of supply side laws. Furthermore, when drug profits go to criminal gangs there are two parties responsible: those who purchased the drugs, and those who support marijuana laws. I see no reason why the burden of the problem should be put on the shoulders of marijuana consumers rather than prohibitionists. Right now we are throwing marijuana consumers in jail, but the real problems caused by marijuana are due to prohibitionists.

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