When the dust settled on Election Day and it became clear that the smoke signals were all pointing in the direction of medical (and eventually legal) marijuana, the Big Weed industry started renewing its lobbying efforts to bring some kind of kind to the Empire State. And all the lobbyists they hired are clearly doing their jobs! Today not only is the Daily News cover pushing dope doctors in New York but over at New York Magazine they're pushing for a truce in the War on Drugs. Coincidence? There is no such thing as a coincidence, man.
Still, not much has changed. At the center of the pro-pot debate in New York you still find State Senator Diane Savino who for for years has been pushing for legalization here. And, as usual, her argument is a financial one: "There is a huge amount of revenue here," the Staten Island rep repeated to the News. Because seriously, there is a LOT of money to be made from legal weed in the marijuana arrest capital of the world.
But the movement still faces the same conservative opposition it has been up against for years. And further, Governor Andrew Cuomo remains harsh on the issue, worrying about the "tremendous risks" even partial legalization would bring (or, as the News' Glenn Blain puts it, he offers "only toking opposition."). However, with legal weed now sprouting up all around New York—and general support for the drug rising nationwide—Cuomo's argument doesn't hold much hope of standing the test of time. Here, let New York's Benjamin Wallace-Wells describe the recent change in the political climate:
Something unexpected has happened in the past five years. The condemnations of the war on drugs—of the mechanized imprisonment of much of our inner-cities, of the brutal wars sustained in Latin America at our behest, of the sheer cost of prohibition, now likely past a trillion dollars-have migrated out from the left-wing cul-de-sacs that they have long inhabited and into the political Establishment. "The war on drugs, though well-intentioned, has been a failure," New Jersey governor Chris Christie said this summer. A global blue-ribbon panel that included both the former Reagan secretary of State George Shultz and Kofi Annan had reached the same conclusion the previous June: "The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies." The pressures from south of the border have grown far more urgent: The presidents of Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, Belize, and Costa Rica have all called for a broad reconsideration of the drug war in the past year, and the Organization of American States is now trying to work out what realistic alternatives there might be.
So will our newly weed-friendly neighbors (and all that Big Weed lobbying money) give New York a contact high? Very possibly! But there is still a lot of work in Albany to be done before that happens.