As we reported yesterday, a bill will soon be introduced into the state Legislature that would legalize medical marijuana in New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo, however, says he won’t sign the bill — despite overwhelming public support for prescription pot. It seems as though maybe — just maybe — the gov might be a little more concerned with running for president in a few years (and having to explain signing a medical marijuana bill) than he is with doing what makes sense.
“There are tremendous risks [associated with legalizing medical marijuana],” he told reporters in Utica on Monday. “I think the risks outweigh the benefits at this point.”
We asked Cuomo’s office what specific “risks” came with allowing people to treat various health problems with marijuana rather than other powerful/dangerous legal narcotic drugs. We were ignored. So until the governor’s office tells us otherwise, we’ll go ahead and assume Cuomo doesn’t know of any “tremendous risks” associated with legalizing medical marijuana, and that’s because there aren’t any — it’s weed, not crystal meth.
Last time we checked, nobody’s died from a marijuana overdose…ever. And if medical marijuana is legal — and regulated by the government, like, say, alcohol (which can be lethal) — it’s a way for sick people to best treat their illnesses without having to deal with a sketch-ball drug dealer who may try to A) rob them, or B) give them crappy weed.
If Cuomo considers food tasting better, movies seeming funnier, and an unhealthy obsession with the Planet Earth series (oh, yeah — and relieving excruciating pain) to be “risks,” then he might be on to something.
If not — and there aren’t actually “tremendous risks” with letting people who already are smoking weed do so legally — it seems the governor might want to stop worrying about how he’s going to explain on the campaign trail why he signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana, and start worrying supporting something the majority of New Yorkers want.
In addition to the “tremendous risks,” Cuomo says there isn’t enough time in the current legislative session to iron out a medical marijuana bill. However, as assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried pointed out earlier this week: “The legislature and governor have sorted out much more complicated issues in less time over the years. I think the governor would find this is very doable.”
Unfortunately, here’s the reality: if Cuomo backs a medical marijuana bill, you can pretty much count on a few “Andrew Cuomo’s soft on drugs — he led the charge against the Rockefeller Drug Laws AND legalized weed (gasp!)” GOP campaign ads if he runs for president.
We spoke with a few medical marijuana advocates yesterday. See our previous story here. As we all agreed, it’s “odd” that an uber-conservative state like Arizona currently has medical weed, but a “progressive” place like New York doesn’t. And, again, the overwhelming public support (anywhere from 60-percent to 80-percent of New Yorkers support medical marijuana, depending on which poll you look at) makes it seem as though an incumbent governor might want to embrace something so popular amongst his constituents — unless, of course, he plans to seek higher office.
Obviously, this is our theory on Cuomo’s “uncharacteristic” (as described by a medical marijuana advocate) opposition to something “progressive” like medical weed. But we want to know what you think: Is Cuomo’s opposition to medical marijuana political posturing?