New York state lawmakers have introduced a couple bills that would legalize, tax and regulate recreational use marijuana. But if NY governor Andrew Cuomo has anything to say about it, weed will keep it’s place on the banned substance list - and his reasoning will have you flashing back to scaremongering lectures from middle school health class.
“It’s a gateway drug, and marijuana leads to other drugs and there’s a lot of proof that that’s true,” Cuomo told Politico on Tuesday. “There’s two sides to the argument. But I, as of this date, I am unconvinced on recreational marijuana.”
In a country where eight states have already legalized adult use of recreational marijuana, and coming from a governor who presides over New York City, where pot arrests have gone up 9% in the year since the drug was decriminalized - with a disproportionate number of those arrests affecting people of color - Cuomo will need some actual stats if he wants to convince the public at large.
And while hard drug users typically have some experience with marijuana, the same can be said about alcohol and tobacco. Unlike the relationship between prescription opioids and the rise in heroin use, there is no definitive research about causality between marijuana and harder drugs.
“The direct answer is maybe,” Susan Weiss, a research director at the federal National Institute on Drug Abuse said.
That didn’t stop Cuomo from disregarding recreational marijuana, and even making fun of a reporter who wanted his serious opinion on the topic.
“I, as of this date, I am unconvinced on recreational marijuana. If you choose to use marijuana recreationally, you know the law, but again, as reporters, I think you should keep it out of the workplace. But it does explain a lot to me, Jimmy. I want you to know that.” Cuomo told Politico reporter Jimmy Vielkind.
In a state with a lot of progressives and a desperate need for more effective, and less racist policing - Cuomo might want to consider treating marijuana laws with a little more severity.