Marijuana in the Race for New York City Mayor

appleUPDATE: Thompson, McDonald, Catsimatidis, and Carrion’s positions have been added. The race to become the next mayor of New York City is one of the most publicized and followed of 2013 and the issue of marijuana has been playing a prominent role, with a large majority of the candidates backing some degree of reform. NORML has compiled this list of the candidates and their statements surrounding marijuana policy to help educate New York City voters where they stand on the issue.


Supports Full Legalization:

Sal Albanese

Background: Former New York City Council Member

Position: “I believe that the time has come to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana. By legalizing it, we can allow police officers to focus on local crime issues and improving clearance rates for homicide, rape, and robbery. By regulating marijuana, we can put black-market drug dealers out of business. By taxing marijuana, we can raise billions of dollars in new revenue to pay teachers better, create pediatric wellness centers, and expand health services.” – Sal Albanese’s Response to NORML

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John Liu

Background: Current New York City Comptroller

Position: “By keeping it illegal, you actually encourage more violent crime. Why not regulate and tax it? We can derive $400 million in revenues for the city, use that money to cut CUNY tuition in half and reduce the disparate social impact that’s occurring in too many of our communities.” – John Liu Statement to NY1

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Supports Decriminalization:

Bill de Blasio

Background: Current Public Advocate for New York City

Position: “In New York City, nearly 50,000 people were arrested last year for marijuana possession. Low-level marijuana possession arrests have disastrous consequences for individuals and their families. These arrests limit one’s ability to qualify for student financial aid and undermine one’s ability to find stable housing and good jobs. What’s more, recent studies demonstrate clear racial bias in arrests for low-level possession, with African-Americans arrested four times more frequently as whites — despite roughly equal usage rates. This policy is unjust and wrong.

First-time offenses for possession of small amounts of marijuana are supposed to be punishable by fine only, unless publicly displayed. Commissioner Kelly instructed NYPD officers to stop making arrests for marijuana possession unless it is in public view. However, too many young African-Americans and Hispanics — without prior convictions — are still arrested for marijuana possession after being stopped and frisked by police, who then treat it as public display.

Bill de Blasio will direct the NYPD to stop these misguided prosecutions and push for the passage of Governor Cuomo’s marijuana possession law, which would remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession under 15 grams. Bill de Blasio will enforce these standards and ensure cases of marijuana found through police stops are treated as possessions, not public displays. These commonsense changes will help reverse the racial impact of low-level marijuana arrests and align policing practices with constitutional protections.” – From Campaign Website

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Christine Quinn

Background: New York City Council Speaker

Position: Supported Governor Cuomo’s efforts to decriminalize marijuana. Also supports medical marijuana.

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Bill Thompson

Background: Former New York City Comptroller

Position: Supports decriminalization of small amounts and medical marijuana, but not legalization. (Source)

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Anthony Weiner

Background: Former United States Representative (D-NY)

Position: “End Arrests for Small Amounts of Mari- juana. These arrests serve no purpose; they worsen NYPD/community relations, create criminal records that ruin lives, and waste the time and energy of officers who should be fighting serious crime.” – Campaign Website

“I can tell my police officers and my police commissioner, that’s [marijuana arrests] not a priority for my administration. [It] damages lives, and very rarely do you catch a master criminal that way.” – Anthony Weiner to Capital New York

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No Formalized Stance:

Erick Salgado
Ceceilia Berkowitz


Supports Full Legalization:

Joe Lhota

Background: Former Deputy Mayor of New York City, Chief of M.T.A.

Position: Supports marijuana legalization, but believes that responsibility for acting on the issue falls to the governor and federal government.

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Supports Decriminalization

George McDonald

Background: Founder and President of the Dole Fund

Position: Supports decriminalization. (Source)

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John Catsimatidis

Background: Owner, president, chairman, and CEO of the Gristedes Foods

Position: Supports medical marijuana, but not legalization.

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The independent candidate, Adolfo Carrión, Jr, supports decriminalization, but not legalization.

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