Eric Adams finished first in New York City’s “ranked-choice” mayoral election and is generally expected to be the ultimate winner, so his comments about marijuana may be getting a little more scrutiny than they really deserve.
First, he emphasized that he “supported and pushed the cannabis (legalization) bill.” However, when he was asked about it in an interview with Vanity Fair his answer was just plain silly.
Vanity Fair: “You said last week you’re ‘concerned about the marijuana laws altogether.’ What specifically are you concerned about?”
Adams: “I supported and pushed the cannabis bill. My concern is that we can’t send the wrong message to people that it’s okay to smoke a joint and then go do an operation, or it’s okay to smoke a joint and then go to school in the morning, or to operate heavy equipment. That is my concern…”
First, that is an echo of the old prohibitionist party line that even allowing medical marijuana would “send the wrong message to children.” I am opposed to alcohol prohibition, but I don’t think it would be okay to get drunk and run for mayor of New York. That would “send the wrong message.”
From 1984 to 2006 Adams was on the New York City Police Department, so that echo is not surprising. Adams also wants to bring back some uses of the controversial “Stop and Frisk” police practice. The New York Post reported, “He has also backed legal use of stop-and-frisk as a method for getting illegal firearms off of city streets.” However, he has also emphasized that “this has been the issue that I put on the forefront not while I was outside the police department, while I was in the police department.”
In fact, under both Giuliani and Bloomberg, marijuana possession arrests soared, but were almost never described as such, because the “Stop and Frisk” searches were justified as being for illegal weapons.
Bloomberg apologized for the policy, saying that he had not realized the problems it caused in minority communities, but everyone went along with his pretense it was all about guns and violent crime in minority neighborhoods.
In fact, very few of the people who were “stopped and frisked” had guns, but the New York Police Department made over 400,000 marijuana arrests under Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk policy.
And it is really even more absurd. “New York City has had decriminalization on its books for four decades, but became known as the marijuana arrest capital of the country. Rather than ticketing low-level marijuana offenders, city police for over a decade have been taking advantage of a separate statute, NY State Penal Law 221.10, which makes it a criminal misdemeanor to possess pot if it is ‘open to public view.’ According to an investigation last year by New York City public radio station WNYC, it was determined that City cops routinely conduct warrantless ‘stop-and-frisk’ searches of civilians, find marijuana hidden on their persons, and then falsely charge them with possessing pot ‘open to public view.”
If “Stop and Frisk” had really been about guns, there would have been far fewer objections, especially now after marijuana legalization. Adams would have been better advised to emphasize that point.
Adams was also described as the “only Democrat with quality of life concerns about legalized pot.”
Adams said, “This can impact on how you respond, it can impair your judgment, so when we talk about legalizing here and how it’s going to be rolled out in the city we need to have clear instructions.” Really?
“Clear instructions” on smoking? What about good manners? What about clear instructions from the city on providing venues where marijuana users can gather socially? What about not treating us like idiots?
Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and author of How To Make Your Own CBD Cream?