Bloomberg Switches Stance on Cannabis Decriminalization

www.pbs.org

By Angela Underwood

After three-time New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his 2020 presidential candidacy he may have to eat his words about state-to-state weed legalization being “perhaps the stupidest thing anybody has ever done.”

The  media mogul’s January 2019 utterance reported in Newsweek are the antithesis of his new stance on cannabis decriminalization now that he’s thrown his hat in the ring for Commander-in-Chief.  

The New York City Council and State Legislature requested the number of marijuana arrests under the Bloomberg Administration in 2013, with the Drug Policy Alliance reporting up to 440,000 cannabis-related arrests between 2002-12 that equaled up to one million police hours.

The New York Daily Weed Report called on Michael Cammarata, CEO of Neptune Wellness Solutions, a cannabis and hemp extraction company, to offer insight on Bloomberg’s last-minute change of heart.

“Like most other presidential candidates, I think he’s trying to give the people what they want,” he said. “The majority of Americans want to see it legalized, and it’s clear he’s come around to realize how crucial it is to our economy and generating revenue to expand American infrastructure.”

Cammarata said decriminalizing will reduce government costs on related prosecution and charges, allowing them to focus on more pressing matters, which trumps political bias.

“This is a bipartisan issue; Republicans and Democrats agree on legalization,” he said. “They didn’t always, but they do now.”

Be it self-serving ambition for Bloomberg, or a real change-of-heart, is impossible to say, according to Cammarata, noting “it’s hard to be against decriminalization when you see how much revenue it creates, and decriminalization is what the people want.”

In sum, decriminalizing would do four things, Cammarata said: get past offenders out of jail and into the workforce; reduce the burden and constraint on our legal system; improve society by expanding capabilities in household and personal care products; and allow tax revenue to support infrastructure.  

Bottom-line, being on the right side of weed is a good political move for any presidential candidate.

“It’s what the people want, and the people have always been the leaders of change,” Cammarata said.  “The political debates are only shedding light on what we’ve already known.”