NEW YORK, January 8, 2014 — New York is gearing up to be the newest state to legalize medical marijuana. Governor Andrew Cuomo is set to pass an executive order to revitalize a 1980 law which allowed certain hospitals to prescribe medical marijuana for specific illnesses, like epilepsy and cancer.
What’s fascinating about medical marijuana legalization in New York is not that Cuomo is using an executive order to push it through the Republican-controlled state senate where they have stopped legalization efforts at every turn, but the resounding silence of medical marijuana opposition.
New York will quietly join 20 other states that allow some form of medical marijuana. This marks what will begin to be the end of pot’s controversy, medical or not.
Marijuana legalization now enjoys majority approval across the United States. Gallup recently noted that 58 percent of America believe that “the use of marijuana should be made legal.” That is a 20 percentage point jump in approval from just ten years ago. As more Americans support legalization of marijuana in all forms, the vocal opposition to medical marijuana legislation is sure to fade away completely.
There is hardly any voice of opposition at all. If anything, the critics of Cuomo’s executive order argue that the medical marijuana reform is not expansive enough. The critics are calling for further medical marijuana legalization, largely worried that doctors will be unable to prescribe needed medication for all patients.
There seems to be only one man in opposition to medical marijuana in the state of New York, and that’s its biggest city’s mayor.
Mayor Bloomberg told CBS New York that medical marijuana “is one of the greatest hoaxes of all time.”
“I’m told marijuana is much stronger today than it was 20 or 30 years ago,” Bloomberg said. “Drug dealers have families to feed. If they can’t sell marijuana, they’ll sell something else, and the something else is going to be worse, and the push to legalize this is just wrong-headed.”
He then rambled about marijuana being a gateway drug.
Thankfully, Bloomberg is standing alone with his opinions.
Indeed, dealers do have to make a living. Instead of treating them as criminals, allow them to make the choice to own a legal, taxed business and completely legalize marijuana. That way, New York won’t have to buy its marijuana from the federal government or from police who confiscate the drug.
New York should create its own burgeoning economy based on of marijuana.
Instead of using the notoriously ineffective Stop-and-Frisk program to put young men of color in jail, the state could dramatically reduce its police force and cut its overflowing prison population.
Decriminalizing marijuana could only benefit the state.
Whether marijuana is more potent today is subject to debate, but whether teens are suffering because of its wide availability isn’t. More teens now acknowledge using marijuana than cigarettes. In spite of this, teen pregnancy rates are nearing a record low, use of other drugs (such as cocaine and MDMA) have dropped and stagnated, and high school dropout rates are steeply declining.
Marijuana is not having an adverse effect on the most vulnerable population. Mayor Bloomberg has little to worry about; the kids’ll be alright.
But these realities are already seeping into the public mindset. The United States watched in awe as Colorado kicked off the year with legal recreational marijuana sales. In comparison, Governor Cuomo’s mild new reform looks like childsplay.
The shock over medical marijuana has ended. The public now rightly believes that medical marijuana is no longer controversial. Only radicals, such as Mayor Bloomberg, will be left stamping their feet as history moves forward without them.
The quiet passage of medical marijuana in New York is a beacon for further decriminalization efforts throughout the country without the backlash it has experienced in years prior.
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