In recent weeks, Andrew Cuomo’s excruciatingly obvious political maneuvering – aimed at watering down the marijuana legalization bill advanced by Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) – has infuriated groups on the right and left.
Cuomo — who last year attempted to decriminalize marijuana for drug peddlers in New York City who, when “stopped and frisked,” would be forced to empty their pockets on the street. They would then be charged with low-level possession offenses. Cuomo thinks that’s unfair and racially biased – which is not an uncommon opinion downstate – so he wanted to make the offense like a parking ticket.
But this year, he went to great lengths to keep the smoking of marijuana illegal — a swift change in policy positions for which he has offered little logic publicly.
It seems he wants to make it easier for minority youth in New York City to smoke marijuana, but is unwilling to amend the law for responsible adults.
In the contemporary political climate — with deep distrust of the government, politicians, and law that aggressively inserts itself into the lives of adults who believe they are exercising natural rights of personhood – Cuomo is quickly making enemies across the political spectrum.
On the right, small government groups and libertarians bemoan Cuomo’s heavy handed regulatory approach — designed to restrict individuals’ free will and ability to make their own decisions for themselves.
On the left, liberals want fewer people incarcerated in prisons and they see senseless prohibition style laws as being deeply harmful to minority communities in particular.
While Cuomo did allow for some oil-based marijuana to be used to treat serious health conditions like cancer and epilepsy, most observers view the strict regulatory approach and the years-long implementation as being a regressive bill.
Once again — like the SAFE Act and others before it — Cuomo wants a very expensive political photo op, for a bill that does more harm than good; because it was architected around Cuomo’s political ambitions rather than around expert knowledge, or the desires of the electorate as expressed by their legislative representatives.
That’s not leadership. It’s not democracy. It’s tepid hackery.