New York City’s democratic mayoral primary is heating up, with Bill de Blasio trying to defend his seat atop the Big Apple from Staten Island lawyer and consummate political challenger Sal Albanese. Last night the two men faced off in a televised debate, touching on topics ranging from housing and the city’s homeless to the ethics of keeping or removing a Christopher Columbus statue from Midtown Manhattan. But it wasn’t until the question of cannabis came up that the verbal joust really took off.
According to the New York Daily News, years-old rumors of de Blasio’s toking tendencies came to a head when both candidates were asked whether they have ever and/or currently smoke marijuana. Albanese quickly confessed that he has never partaken, while de Blasio admitted to smoking “once or twice” while he was in college at NYU.
When it came to the question of present day participation, de Blasio decided it was the right time to poke fun the stresses of public office.
“Currently no...some days I wish I did," de Blasio said with a laugh when asked if he still smokes.
But while de Blasio is perfectly happy to make jokes about marijuana’s stress relieving properties, he failed to take responsibility for or even mention the thousands of racially motivated cannabis arrests the NYPD continues to execute, even after de Blasio has promised time and again to halt the pointless policing. The sitting mayor also brushed off further inquiries about the prospect of legal weed in the city.
“I believe the laws we have now are the right laws, I think we will have a lot more information now available as we see other states decriminalize, we will — states decriminalize, we will learn from their experience,” de Blasio said.
At the other podium, Albanese quickly answered the same question by taking a harder stand, telling New Yorkers that marijuana “needs to be legalized,” while offering his own humor about his lifelong abstinence.
"I hope you don't think I'm a square, I've never smoked marijuana," the Democratic challenger said.
The mayoral race is far from finished, but we’re pretty sure that if Albanese can do what de Blasio has failed to and stop unjust cannabis arrests in New York City, no one will be calling him a square.