With basically every neighboring state — New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island — now supporting medical marijuana, and Washington and Colorado legalizing it altogether, New York’s stance on weed is starting to get sort of embarrassing. Other people are already getting baked and making money off of it, and we’re still arguing about how many teenagers we should bother throwing in jail every year for being caught with a nug on their person.
But, according to the New York Post, help is on the way, in the form of “Big Marijuana” and expensive, high-powered lobbyists.
Apparently, Gaia — a pot manufacturing giant from Colorado, obviously — has taken on Patricia Lynch Associates, a firm run by a former aide to Sheldon Silver and colleague of the New York Republican Party’s former executive director Patrick McCarthy. Notoriously pro-marijuana Statent Island state Sen. Diane Savino told the paper, “We’re going to negotiate this bill with the wind at our backs. There’s tremendous support to legalize medical marijuana in New York. It’s inevitable.”
Which is definitely true — a June poll found that 61 percent of voters in New York support medical marijuana, while other advocates say the legal sale of weed could generate $1 billion per year for our state economy, a pretty tempting option while our Governor is currently petitioning the federal government for $30 billion in funds for Sandy cleanup.
Cuomo, however, has said that the “risks outweigh the benefits,” and a New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor told the Post, “We are now coping with the epidemic of prescription-pill addiction and cannot afford another disaster caused by the highly abused ‘remedy’ pushed by Big Marijuana.”
Which, you know, doesn’t really take into account the vast differences between legalized pain-relieving marijuana and a market that pharmaceutical companies have greedily flooded with legal opioids and amphetamines, but baby steps, I guess. For now, the phrase “Big Marijuana” is delightfully entering our political conversation, and we get to watch the Post awkwardly inch towards full-blown support of legalization.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.