Marijuana in the Race for New York City Mayor

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director August 14, 2013

    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

    Click here for more info.

    Christine Quinn

    Background: New York City Council Speaker

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

    Click here for more info.

    Bill Thompson

    Background: Former New York City Comptroller

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

    Click here for more info.

    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

    Click here for more info.

    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 responses to “Marijuana in the Race for New York City Mayor”

    1. TheOracle says:

      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. Galileo Galilei says:

      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. St. Nick and Dime says:

      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. Ben says:

      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. Gweedo says:

      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. eric says:

      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. john420 says:

      Cannabis prohibition is definitely over when we see cannabis legalization in Texas.

    8. Julian says:

      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/alexhillfund.com
      We have to make this protest national and put Austin Texas at the center.

    9. phrtao says:

      Remember it was a New York Mayor who gave his name to a major study into cannabis (and found it not to be the demon drug portrayed by the media of the time) – the great reformer Fiorello La Guardia (mayor 1934 – 1945).


    10. Miles says:

      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…