Michael Bloomberg Calls Marijuana Legalization "Stupidest Thing Anybody Has Ever Done"

2020 U.S. Presidential Candidate, businessman and billionaire Michael Bloomberg has tossed his hat into the 2020 Presidential election ring, though his harsh stance on marijuana legalization may stop him in his tracks.

We note that the subject contained in this article represents illegal activity in certain jurisdictions. Whilst we do not condone any acts which are contrary to any such laws, we understand that readers in those jurisdictions which have decriminalised cannabis may find this article of interest.

Michael Bloomberg, a renowned business owner and billionaire, has officially decided to join the 2020 Presidential bid under the Democrat party.

Bloomberg's entrance into the race places him in stark contrast with some of his fellow Democrats, namely populist's Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who have both defined much of their campaigns and tax plans as an opposition to the billionaire-class and income inequality within the United States.

Though Bloomberg's exorbitant wealth (which places him at 9th richest person in the world) isn't the only point of contention among his fellow Democrats. Bloomberg's campaign also veers from his Democrat allies when it comes to marijuana law reform.

Bloomberg is a strong opponent of federal marijuana legalization, a position shared only with Vice President and fellow 2020 candidate Joe Biden, who has already faced criticism from other Democrats for his less liberal stance on cannabis.

While Biden argues that more research needs to be done in determining the potential for cannabis to be a 'Gateway Drug,' Bloomberg takes it a step further.

On the topic of marijuana law reform, Bloomberg has stated that:

"We have a different kind of problem in America, for example. Last year, in 2017, 72,000 Americans [overdosed] on drugs. In 2018, more people than that are OD-ing on drugs, have OD'd on drugs. And today, incidentally, we are trying to legalize another addictive narcotic, which is perhaps the stupidest thing anybody has ever done. We've got to fight that, and that's another thing that Bloomberg Philanthropies will work on it in public health."

Bloomberg's harsh stance on cannabis has been evident throughout his public life, particularly while he was mayor of New York between 2002 and 2013.

During Bloomberg's tenure as New York Mayor, the NYPD made about 440,000 arrests for cannabis possession alone, according to a report from the Drug Policy Alliance, which amounted to more marijuana arrests under Bloomberg than under the mayorships of Ed Koch, David Dinkins and Rudy Giuliani combined.

A central pillar to his mayorship, and to securing these arrests, was Bloomberg's support and encouragement of stop-and-frisks, which allowed New York police officers the power to stop and search anyone they suspected of a crime – a power which was deemed by a federal judge in 2013 to violate the constitutional rights of minorities.

According to The Growth Op, Bloomberg's Mayorship meant that New York residents were six times as likely to be stopped by the police for marijuana possession than under previous leadership.

And it isn't just recreational marijuana which Bloomberg opposes either, as the presidential candidate told CBS New York. "Medical, my… come on. There's no medical," Bloomberg said on WOR radio. "This is one of the great hoaxes of all time."

Former New York City Mayor and possible 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg listens as he is introduced to speak at the Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S., January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

An Unlikely Path To Presidency

Speculation surrounding Michael Bloomberg's entrance into the 2020 presidential bid circulated the internet for several weeks prior to his announcement that he would run on November 25th.

The announcement reportedly came when the former NYC mayor decided that Joe Biden wasn't fit to take the helm of the Democrat Party and that he had to take matters into his own hands.

Though a late start in the race isn't the only factor that may hold Bloomberg back. Bloomberg's hardline stance on cannabis and his existing anti-pot resume as NYC mayor will be a very difficult sell for voters.

Not only has public opinion on cannabis legalization shifted dramatically in recent years, but virtually everyone on the Democrat side of the aisle is in favour of legalizing weed.

Pew polls show that while 55% of Republicans support cannabis legalization, nearly eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (78%) say marijuana use should be legal.

So not only will Bloomberg be receiving criticism from his fellow Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren about his exorbitant wealth, but he'll also struggle to win over the hearts and minds of those passionate about cannabis – on both sides of the aisle.

And when it comes to Bloomberg's remarks about the narcotic epidemic, with 2017's record-breaking 72,000 Americans that overdosed on drugs, none of these overdoses were the result of cannabis use.

In fact, as we mentioned in our rebuttal to Joe Biden's views on cannabis, studies have shown that when you legalize cannabis, opioid use actually decreases. This is likely due to medical practitioners prescribing medicinal cannabis instead of harder substances.

Whether or not you agree with Bloomberg's belief that cannabis' medicinal properties are perhaps overstated or entirely fabricated, (despite the growing evidence to suggest otherwise in fields like chronic pain and epilepsy,) it is impossible to sincerely argue that cannabis poses the same health risks that opiates do.

Bloomberg's myopic view on marijuana and his inability to differentiate opioid use from cannabis use may cause a rift too large for voters to leap across, and will likely serve as a major impediment to his progression in the 2020 elections. His stance on cannabis ignores the failures of the War on Drugs and also ignores the fact that the cannabis industry is the fastest-growing job market in the U.S., already bringing in billions for the states which legalize it.

It looks like Bloomberg's presidential bid could be over before it begins.

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.

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