Mike Bloomberg, the former three-term Republican mayor of New York City, is now the neon-horse candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. For what else do you call a man with $68 billion thrusting his name in front of the nation’s face in screaming 72-point font, illuminated by a record $400 million and counting in self-funded campaign advertising, all before appearing on a single primary or caucus ballot?
For the moment, Bloomberg polls a respectable third among the still-crowded field of candidates, but maybe not for much longer. The money mayor appeared for the first time on a debate stage Wednesday in Las Vegas, where, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, his rivals took turns simply eviscerating him, for his terrible record with women as a business executive, for using stop-and-frisk to turn New York into a police state, and for cynically buying his way into politics, as Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce observed.
Much crueler they all could have been given the setting. Cannabis is legal in Las Vegas. There are 24-hour dispensaries. The biggest weed convention in the world is here. All seems pretty good — and this is an atmosphere that Bloomberg used all of his power, and the power of the New York police state, to suppress and prevent. As bad as Bloomberg’s record is on the above, his record on cannabis is even worse.
Bloomberg reportedly approached @FATJEW, who has 11M followers, but he refused:
“I grew up in New York City so I can tell you firsthand, Bloomberg is a colossal shitbag. From the subjugation of minorities through stop and frisk policies to his hardline anti-marijuana stance…” pic.twitter.com/DXaJ9DgmTZ
— Jesselyn Cook (@JessReports) February 13, 2020
Fat Jew knows. The viral content sharer-and-creator was one of the extremely popular social-media influencers solicited by the Bloomberg campaign to starting meme-ing for money. Rather than take the check and get to stepping, Fat Jew told Bloomberg to get stuffed. Fat Jew grew up in New York City, which means he had a front-row seat for this: Under Bloomberg, by the mid-2000s, New York police were arresting 27,000 people a year for cannabis offenses — up from 1,500 in the early 1990s, with the vast majority of them people of color.
Under Bloomberg, who wants to pay weedheads to help him become president in 2020, New York City became the worldwide leader in marijuana arrests, as Salon’s Alex Pareene wrote. (Bloomberg also oversaw an NYPD that spent millions on military-grade equipment and sophisticated technology to spy on activists — and millions more on use-of-force settlements.) (He also-also paid off a band of craven and venal lunatics to boost his candidacy.) (Jesus, is there any low to which Bloomberg hasn’t already stooped??)
Now while it’s true that Rudy Giuliani and his choice for police commissioner, Bill Bratton, kicked this pebble down the hill in the 1990s, Bloomberg took the rock and started rolling boulders after it. Bloomberg continued NYC’s war on weed and eagerly expanded it, and meanwhile opened up an intellectual front.
According to Bloomberg, medical cannabis, an extremely popular policy innovation and a concept supported by science — there are cannabinoid-based medicines as well as strong evidence supporting the idea that whole-plant cannabis has significant medical benefits — is “one of the greatest hoaxes of all time,” he told a radio interviewer in 2013. “Medical, my foot,” Bloomberg said. “There’s no medical. This is one of the greatest hoaxes of all time.” Oh, and by the way, in a weirdo backwards nod to the dystopian New York of the early 1970s, selling weed is basically the same thing as heroin, as in anyone slanging weed qualifies as a “drug dealer” and drug dealers will sling heroin if not weed. “[D]rug dealers have families to feed,” Bloomberg said. “If they can’t sell marijuana, they’ll sell something else. And the something else will be something worse.”
The best thing about all this that Bloomberg smoked weed when he was younger. “You bet I did,” he told an interviewer in 2001, when he was first running for mayor. “and I enjoyed it.” Just a year later, Bloomberg was backing away from that moment of candor, saying how much he respected the laws, how much he opposed even half-measures like decriminalization, and how much he regretted saying smoking weed could be a pleasurable experience. You almost get the idea that Bloomberg probably doesn’t give a darn about what he says or does as long as he gets to be the boss.
In that sense he’s not unlike Donald Trump. Both are rich and conservative dudes from New York who wear suits and like to talk about markets. The difference is a matter of degrees of sophistication. The other difference is that compared to Bloomberg, Trump is pretty good on weed. The war that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned of never materialized. The federal roadblocks to a national market and a environment encouraging research still exist, which means Trump is basically a chaotic neutral on weed. Compare that to Bloomberg, the very lawful and, at least on cannabis, very evil mayor of lock-you-up-for-weed-town USA. We don’t recommend anyone be a single-issue voter, but if cannabis reform is your bag, listen to Fat Jew. Bloomberg has done nothing to earn your vote, and he has worked overtime to ensure that, if you lived in his New York City, you would not be able to vote. Don’t forget that.
TELL US, does a politician’s cannabis policy matter more to you than other issues?