Marijuana in the Race for New York City Mayor

appleUPDATE: Thompson, McDonald, Catsimatidis, and Carrion’s positions have been added. The race to become the next mayor of New York City is one of the most publicized and followed of 2013 and the issue of marijuana has been playing a prominent role, with a large majority of the candidates backing some degree of reform. NORML has compiled this list of the candidates and their statements surrounding marijuana policy to help educate New York City voters where they stand on the issue.


Supports Full Legalization:

Sal Albanese

Background: Former New York City Council Member

Position: “I believe that the time has come to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana. By legalizing it, we can allow police officers to focus on local crime issues and improving clearance rates for homicide, rape, and robbery. By regulating marijuana, we can put black-market drug dealers out of business. By taxing marijuana, we can raise billions of dollars in new revenue to pay teachers better, create pediatric wellness centers, and expand health services.” – Sal Albanese’s Response to NORML

Click here for more info.

John Liu

Background: Current New York City Comptroller

Position: “By keeping it illegal, you actually encourage more violent crime. Why not regulate and tax it? We can derive $400 million in revenues for the city, use that money to cut CUNY tuition in half and reduce the disparate social impact that’s occurring in too many of our communities.” – John Liu Statement to NY1

Click here for more info.

Supports Decriminalization:

Bill de Blasio

Background: Current Public Advocate for New York City

Position: “In New York City, nearly 50,000 people were arrested last year for marijuana possession. Low-level marijuana possession arrests have disastrous consequences for individuals and their families. These arrests limit one’s ability to qualify for student financial aid and undermine one’s ability to find stable housing and good jobs. What’s more, recent studies demonstrate clear racial bias in arrests for low-level possession, with African-Americans arrested four times more frequently as whites — despite roughly equal usage rates. This policy is unjust and wrong.

First-time offenses for possession of small amounts of marijuana are supposed to be punishable by fine only, unless publicly displayed. Commissioner Kelly instructed NYPD officers to stop making arrests for marijuana possession unless it is in public view. However, too many young African-Americans and Hispanics — without prior convictions — are still arrested for marijuana possession after being stopped and frisked by police, who then treat it as public display.

Bill de Blasio will direct the NYPD to stop these misguided prosecutions and push for the passage of Governor Cuomo’s marijuana possession law, which would remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession under 15 grams. Bill de Blasio will enforce these standards and ensure cases of marijuana found through police stops are treated as possessions, not public displays. These commonsense changes will help reverse the racial impact of low-level marijuana arrests and align policing practices with constitutional protections.” – From Campaign Website

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Christine Quinn

Background: New York City Council Speaker

Position: Supported Governor Cuomo’s efforts to decriminalize marijuana. Also supports medical marijuana.

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Bill Thompson

Background: Former New York City Comptroller

Position: Supports decriminalization of small amounts and medical marijuana, but not legalization. (Source)

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Anthony Weiner

Background: Former United States Representative (D-NY)

Position: “End Arrests for Small Amounts of Mari- juana. 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.” – Campaign Website

“I can tell my police officers and my police commissioner, that’s [marijuana arrests] not a priority for my administration. [It] damages lives, and very rarely do you catch a master criminal that way.” – Anthony Weiner to Capital New York

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No Formalized Stance:

Erick Salgado
Ceceilia Berkowitz


Supports Full Legalization:

Joe Lhota

Background: Former Deputy Mayor of New York City, Chief of M.T.A.

Position: Supports marijuana legalization, but believes that responsibility for acting on the issue falls to the governor and federal government.

Click here for more info.

Supports Decriminalization

George McDonald

Background: Founder and President of the Dole Fund

Position: Supports decriminalization. (Source)

Click here for more info.

John Catsimatidis

Background: Owner, president, chairman, and CEO of the Gristedes Foods

Position: Supports medical marijuana, but not legalization.

Click here for more info.

The independent candidate, Adolfo Carrión, Jr, supports decriminalization, but not legalization.

26 thoughts

  1. Shit yeah! Cannabis coffeeshops in The Big Apple. Legalize cannabis and you WON’T have to worry about NYC becoming Detroit. Once New York City comes over to our side, cannabis prohibition is definitely over.

  2. What I really enjoy seeing here is that the Repulican guy supports full legalization! Marijuana legalization won’t happen as long as the anti-weed conservatives rule the party.

    Maybe I won’t be dead by the time it’s legalized after all.

  3. This is a war between the US gov and the US citizens and by God~ we are going to win! Dont listen to ANYTHING negative about pot. We have cracked the dam holding back our good times! Godspeed fellow smokers

  4. This is an unforeseen, (by me), possibility of an incredibly strong force of leverage in this battle. NYC is well known, nationally, internationally, and its impacts are far reaching.

    It would be ideal if we could identify the best/most-likely-to-win candidate and solidify the votes of the pro-C masses that are in position to make a difference.

    The dominoes are continuing to fall.

    Thanks to NORML and our other great allies in this!

  5. Thank you, NORML! This is very useful. I live in NYC, and I knew that Albanese supports legalization, and that Quinn has favored cannabis reform in the past, but I didn’t know that DeBlasio and Weiner do as well. I will still be voting for Sal Albanese, because he has been one of the most vocal when it comes to cannabis reform.

  6. the main hurdle is cuomo skelos and silver..they run the show in nyc…if these idiots stop playing games and wake up mabye will see a differnce,,,LEGALIZE IT !!

  7. I have always been told that “So goes New york City, so goes the nation.” It was the Rockefeller laws from New York that promoted prohibition in the first place. It will be New York laws that will end it.
    As far as “john420″‘s comments about Texas, we are organizing a march in Austin over Alexandra Hill’s death. Donate at facebook/
    We have to make this protest national and put Austin Texas at the center.

  8. This is epic when this many candidates support ending prohibition!!!

    As I approach 60, I now believe I will see legalization in my lifetime and that after spending almost my entire life being paranoid about being busted I’ll finally be legal!!!

    This stupid war against the American people isn’t over yet but, by God, we’re winning. They can’t continue to feed us their BS, via the DEA’s propaganda machine, any more without serious consequences! The truth is out there, the politicians know it, and are starting to fall in line!

    I wonder when President Obama will finally weigh in on this (in person) now that his Attorney General has spoken out against the idiocy of prohibition – hmmmm…. waiting…

  9. Cuomo is running for reelection next year…..let him know where you stand regarding this important issue
    (518) 474-8390
    The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
    Governor of New York State
    NYS State Capitol Building
    Albany, NY 12224

  10. Does NYC have the ability to create a cannabis legalization law separate from the state of New York? I was under the impression that NYC does not. Thus a mayor could only request that police make cannabis a low priority. In that situation police are unlikely to listen. Ultimately New York State law is bound up by a Republican controlled Senate.

    I called Cuomo’s office and requested that the 2013 vote on medical cannabis be passed. Of course it never even voted on. Cuomo’s few statements gives the impression he believes 15 grams is sufficient for medical use, which obviously it would not be. Also Cuomo has provided no plans to separate the public from the drug dealers and organized crime required to obtain those 15 grams. Cuomo supports maintaining an unregulated criminal network.

    Without a referendum or initiative process, the citizens of New York State have no direct say in cannabis law. Citizens have had to watch medical cannabis laws die in the Senate repeatedly. It’s time that major changes happen to New York State’s political system. When polls show 82% of New York State citizens are in favor of medical marijuana, it should happen that year! The fact medical marijuana legislation did not pass in 2013, tells you everything you need to know, give voters a direct vote!

  11. It’s about time more politicians take part in the possibility of ending Prohibition of marijuana. The law never made much sense, but America at one time thought it did. All thanks to a single person. Harry J. Anslinger. He was our Country’s first drug Czar.
    Anyways, looks like the end of the War On Drugs, is actually near. I can’t wait to be able to light up, and do so legally. Somehow after all this time, we are finally starting to win! xD

  12. The really good news here is that all three Republicans support decriminalization. One even supports full legalization.

    Gone are the days when the conservatives can pointlessly and cruelly spend money to wage their culture war on the rest of us.

  13. Don’t be too happy about the Republican support for reform in NY. The NY City Republican party is about as representative of the national party as the NY state legislature is of the NY population. Which is to say, not very much at all.
    Remember how Giuliani did in the 2008 primaries before you celebrate the re-conversion of the Republicans to de-regulation of personal lives…

  14. Only 2 candidates support full blown legalization. The rest of them have not committed that far yet. Weiner and De Blasio are both for redirecting priorities.

  15. Cuomo is hoping the fates fall his way and he can run for president in 2016. He likely won’t run if Hillary Clinton does. So….he’s playing it safe, and not pushing for medical or legalization. It will take an energized effort to pass the laws, and I hope New Yorkers organize well and tirelessly.

  16. 18 States plus DC have legalized or dicrimnalized marijuana in some way.If New York is next it will be another great day in the United States of America!

  17. Anthony Weiner? Really? Hah. Anyways, nice to see how much support the candidates are giving. It’s about time New York City saw some changes in this respect.

  18. @Vape: Did you see how quick Anthony Weiner answered “yes” when they asked him if he ever texted while driving? His opponents must be PAYING him to run. Unfortunately it looks like DeBlasio is leading; I say unfortunately because decriminalizing has a caviat vs. legalization in that the dark forces of prohibition are still at work with the Cuomo/DeBlasio plan. We could see small posessions decriminalized in NYC, but not full scale regulation for sale and use like Colorado or Washington.
    The greater success story will be for minorities carrying small posessions of cannabis with stop and frisk, which continues despite the recent court ruling of its unconstitutionality.
    An even GREATER success story for NYC would be if Jessica Williams from the Daily Show could stop and frisk white men on wall street with suit and ties and slicked back hair and check their briefcases for bank statements betting against their own investors. Now THAT would be JUSTICE.

  19. The candidates should know that the system is making it
    Many votes will be lost because of this.
    Is anyone looking out for votes? …Really?

  20. Lord in heaven finally no more cheating on drug tests because I enjoy a little weed once in a while when I get home from work

  21. whats wrong with something that hurts no one and allows people to eat, have great sex, engage in conversation make you friendly never violent (unlike alcohol) you cannot overdose on it,it makes you aware of all the bullshit, enjoy music and movies helps you sleep relieves pain, helps treat many health disorders medically proven relieves stress and many more benefits. It will also generate millions in revenue its just the biggest brainwash in human history. Legalize it and make it harder for kids to get since they would have to show id instead of walking next door to get a bag. Its safer than alcohol and Tylenol and even water has never killed anyone unlike these three

  22. Are you guys reading? Odds are, if it passes in NY it won’t be legal to buy, so you still have to buy from a dealer and can only have 15 or less grams. And that means you can still get busted for purchasing and selling. It’s bullshit how there are so many people in the state/country who would vote for full legalization federally.

    WHY IS THIS NOT A REAL DEMOCRACY?!?! FOR THE PEOPLE!! That’s how many billion!?! Not just a selected few hundred or so. It’s bullshit how this is the most free country and freedom is what we’re all about, but we don’t wven have the fuckin freedom to smoke some pot instead of destroying our bodies with alcohol to catch a buzz?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

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