Michael Bloomberg's Stance on Cannabis

Find out what the Media giant and presidential candidate, Michael Bloomberg, really thinks of marijuana legalization.

On Wednesday last week, former Mayor of New York and owner of Bloomberg L.P., Michael Bloomberg, made his debut on the Democrat debate stage to debate his fellow contenders for the primary candidate for the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

The debate was considered largely a failure for Bloomberg, who had already spent hundreds of millions on his campaign, and who also became the focal point of criticism throughout the debate, receiving flack from virtually all sides. Bloomberg was attacked for allegedly buying his way into the debate, his history of sexual misconduct allegations within his media company Bloomberg L.P. and for his previous stop-and-frisk policy as NYC Mayor.

Bloomberg's stop-and-frisk policy became a point of controversy after audio surfaced revealing that the former mayor was targetting minorities with his policy. The former mayor also mentioned in the recordings that this disproportionate focus on frisking minorities was resulting in the higher marijuana arrests we see occurring in minority communities.

While Bloomberg apologized for his prior policy and its racial impact, surprisingly, the former mayor got off without being questioned on how these policies overlapped with his harsh stance on cannabis laws.

For this reason, we're going to highlight Bloomberg's colourful history on cannabis.

Will Bloomberg Legalize Cannabis?

On the topic of marijuana law reform, Bloomberg has quite the history. In addition to his previous remarks on disproportionately arresting minorities for weed possession, he also said that legalizing cannabis is tantamount to adding to the opioid epidemic which plagues the United States.

"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 time as Mayor of New York, the NYPD made nearly half a million 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.

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."

Bloomberg has also previously stated that cannabis use lowers IQ, with a hidden recording revealing him asking "what are we going to say in 10 years when we see all these kids whose IQs are 5 and 10 points lower than they would have been?" Bloomberg told the Aspen audience. "Kids' brains are being formed while they are teenagers." And if that wasn't enough, this is all in spite of the fact that Bloomberg has admitted to smoking weed himself.

Bloomberg's Backflip on Bud

Not only did Bloomberg do a backflip with regards to his previous stop-and-frisk policies, mentioning that they were the one aspect of his mayorship that he was ashamed of, but he has also backflipped somewhat on his harsh cannabis stance. According to his campaign website, Bloomberg's presidency would "de-criminalize the use and possession of marijuana nationwide, commute all existing sentences, and expunge all records."

Whether he's being genuine, or simply attempting to keep up with his fellow Democrats, Bloomberg's new stance on cannabis is nonetheless moving more toward the desires of the American population.

Though his stance on medical marijuana, an area where most cannabis research is being done, leaves much to be desired:

"Mike believes that further scientific study is required to assess the health effects of marijuana. In the meantime, he believes that no one should go to jail for smoking or possessing it," the plan states. "He recognizes that the criminal approach to marijuana has fallen disproportionately on the Black community: While white and Black people in the U.S. use marijuana at roughly equal rates, Black Americans are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for possession."

To some, the slight change in Bloomberg's stance toward cannabis may be reassuring, though, to others, it may come off as him simply going for the politically popular opinion to win votes – especially given his long track record of doing the complete opposite when he was in power.

Could Cannabis Cause Bloomberg's Downfall?

The reason it's so fascinating that Bloomberg wasn't challenged on his cannabis comments, is that virtually every other candidate on the stage supports cannabis legalization, as do two-thirds of the U.S. population. The only other Democrat candidate to oppose marijuana was Joe Biden, who famously resuscitated the 'Gateway Effect' theory, before being widely criticized for doing so.

Highlighting Bloomberg's harsh stance on drug policy, and how the War on Drugs played into his stop-and-frisk policy by targetting minorities, would be an easy way for competitors to further sully the reputation of Bloomberg and to continue to separate the billionaire from the average American.

This is precisely what Tulsi Gabbard did to Kamala Harris while both were contenders in the race when Gabbard highlighted that Kamala had similarly locked up large amounts of minorities for marijuana possession. Many considered this moment to be the nail in the coffin for Kamala's presidential debate.

As it stands, Bloomberg is teetering between 2nd place and 4th in current polling – despite spending nearly half a billion on his campaign to date. He has the finances to continue pushing his campaign till the bitter end, but could his stance on cannabis be the nail in his political coffin?

This could be one of the best investing opportunities of 2020

Legislative changes are blowing through the US, and with it, an ever-increasing number of states legalising cannabis for recreational use.

With the success seen in Illinois, which legalised for adult-use on January 1 and saw products moving off the shelf at an unprecedented rate, this company is primed to take advantage of the booming US recreational market.

They have secured partnerships with the biggest cannabis companies in the US, and their portfolio is second to none.

And with the sector-wide pullback of 2019, this company is now at a bargain-basement price.

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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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