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Bloomberg Calls Legalization ‘Stupidest Thing Ever Done’

January 23, 2019
Support for cannabis legalization is lower among older voters from both parties. (Matt Rourke/AP)
Support for cannabis legalization is lower among older voters from both parties. (Matt Rourke/AP)
Here’s one way to stand out in a crowded pack of Democratic presidential candidates: Go on the radio and shoot yourself in the foot.

Former New York mayor and one-time presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg blasted cannabis law reform efforts Tuesday.

Bloomberg went on the radio station WBNG and said taxing and regulating cannabis — instead of locking mostly young people of color up for it — “is perhaps the stupidest thing anybody has ever done.”

We could think of stupider things, like mulling a presidential run after calling most voters stupid for supporting legalization by 61 percent in the US, and 75 percent among Democrats. Ten states have ended the marijuana war. More than one in five Americans live in a legal adult-use state.


When Will New York Legalize It? State Senator Diane Savino Explains

More dangerously, Bloomberg tied liberalization of cannabis — which has no lethal overdose level — to America’s opioid overdose epidemic, echoing former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ talking points.

“Last year, in 2017, 72,000 Americans OD’d on drugs,” Bloomberg said. “In 2018, more people than that are OD-ing on drugs, have OD’d on drugs, and today, incidentally, we are trying to legalize another addictive narcotic, which is perhaps the stupidest thing anybody has ever done.”

That might be a catchy radio sound bite, but it misleads citizens. First, cannabis is not a narcotic. Studies conclude cannabis carries less risk for psychological addiction — or physical dependence — than more toxic, legal drugs such as nicotine and alcohol, let alone legal opioids (which are narcotics). Still, the federal government deems cannabis more medically useless and far riskier than opioid drugs like vicodin and codeine.

In terms of dependence, cannabis withdrawal is considered “mild and medically benign.” By contrast, alcohol withdrawal can be deadly.

As for trouble stopping use, someone who uses cannabis might have a nine percent chance of developing a cannabis use disorder at one point in their lives, a fraction of the addiction risk of other drugs.

Bloomberg has said he would fight cannabis legalization through Bloomberg Philanthropies — part of a broad public health agenda that has included taxing sugary drinks as mayor of New York.

Bloomberg’s comments further isolate him among prominent Democrats, including the current governor of New York state and the mayor of New York City, who have outlined terms for ending the war on cannabis. Most of his potential opponents in the Democratic primary for the 2020 election have also voiced support for national cannabis law reform.

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David Downs's Bio Image

David Downs

David Downs directs news and lifestyle coverage as the California Bureau Chief for He's written for WIRED, Rolling Stone and Billboard, and is the former cannabis editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as the author of several cannabis books including 'Marijuana Harvest' by Ed Rosenthal and David Downs. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. TW: @davidrdowns | IG @daviddowns

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  • Fester

    The stupidest thing anyone has ever done is vote for this POS. Well maybe the 2nd stupidest thing after our orange POS in the white house.

    • MXJ222

      Maybe you need to lay off the weed for a while.

      While his remarks and position are very ignorant and unknowing, Bloomberg is far from a “POS”. He’s quite an accomplished man whose generosity and support for causes most republicans detest extends to hundreds of millions of dollars in donations out if his pocket. In case you isn’t get that I’ll say it again – Hundreds of millions of dollars. He owes no one and never took donations when running for office. He would do a far better job as President than anyone running on either side.

      Ignorance doesn’t make a person a POS, but in your case an exception might be in order.

    • Robert McDaniel

      Fester, for someone who smoking weed would be a hate monger about Trump, so tell me why you do you feel this way, I’m sure you grabbed some pussy, if not and your a cock man, then I understand, but tell us why, are you Mexican, a feminist, a rainbow freak or just a turkey

      • James

        Yeah that should help garner support for POTUS when supporters like you are calling gay people rainbow freaks and instead of talking policy you talk grabbing pussy. I have a “rainbow freak” relative who voted for President Trump and as recently as yesterday was hardcore supporting some new issue that left and right were at war over. Trump is Trump. I don’t wring my hands over everything he does nor do I get off on resisting his Presidency.

        It’s supporters like you with your divisiveness who are the problem. And I have a feeling that since you breitbart types have gained a decent foothold into the Republican party (there should be no room for that but POTUS foolishly helped it along with Charlottesville) that 2020 will not turn out how you want it to. People are sick of the noise coming from both fringe sides. Both parties should be abolished or returned to the days when rational thought was in vogue.

    • Gary Craig

      Bloomberg should drop out, like yesterday. The former mayor is way, way outta touch.

  • gayshooter

    Bloomberg feels he knows best for the entire country, and spends his limitless resources on it, independent of the facts behind the subject.

  • Sy Katus

    I thought Bloomberg claimed to be a cannabis user. The war on drugs has not worked. It had over a hundred years of failure. Why would any one support it when the Sheriff of Nottingham’s idea of free measured doses of heroin to users solved the problems of crime to get the money for stuff, saved enforcement expenses eliminated deaths from overdoses and did away with the costs of cleaning the mess up after, where ever it has been used. It gave the heroin user access to clinics where they could confront giving it up more easily too. The same method for cocaine use is applicable too. Free Marijuana paid by medical insurance works too (I heard in Canada the national health pays for medical weed). This method saves billions in enforcement expense that the war on drugs sucks out of the people’s tax money and puts an end to the millions they confiscate with high seas piracy and highwayman activities. After killing and ruining the lives for so many years of so many good persons for just self-medicating, the state owes the long persecuted citizen user big time anyway. The drug enforcement economy would have to face the situation. They would have to admit they were part of a system that did terrible damage to people in the world for over a hundred years now. Punishing people for their way of life is genocide and it violates America’s laws about the nation’s basic standard and laws that guarantee fair free enterprise, human liberty as spoken of in the declaration of independence.

  • Russell Kingsley

    He and Jeff Sessions should start dating.

  • Capt.Steve Thompson

    Let him stay in the race and let Dems knife each other while we take it again MAGA 2020! OBTW Trump is A-Ok with Cannabis

  • justadbeer

    Now that’s the best reply so far!

  • Lee Butcher

    “Stupid is as stupid does.” Textbook example here. Forrest, tell him you meant ‘RUN!’, not run for office!

  • Observer

    This one won’t . His brother died of alcoholism, and he’s dead-set against legalizing anything on that list. He personally does not touch alcohol (or any other drug, as far as we know). Sessions was his point man on this issue, & got his supreme approval for DOJ’s stance. This POTUS is NOT going to change – you can bank on it.

    • James

      POTUS stated on camera he was willing to consider it and is not dumb enough to relate cannabis legalization with alcohol addiction. If anything pulling cannabis through will take a dump on the industry that contributed to Fred’s death. Sessions simply did his job like any AG. And part of their job is to prosecute schedule I (same as heroin) cannabis cases. If Trump doesn’t do it the next Pres will with bipartisan support and praise. Minimum get it out of state/fed limbo since State’s are legalizing like crazy best case get it out of S1. Bonus, this is how you guarantee election wins in 2020. Everybody is for this (except some on the fringe, there’s always the fringe). Last, State’s rights. I’m all for them. Fed shouldn’t have the authority to regulate drugs in the first place. Gov’t always makes things worse. Look at opiods.

  • Observer

    I don’t think ‘avarice’ is quite the right word. I’d try ‘ego.’ And because we already have a POTUS with an outsized one, I don’t think we’re ready for yet another.