I recently spoke with Howie Hawkins, Green Party candidate for governor of New York. Hawkins said that the legalization of marijuana would have a variety of positive impacts in New York.
“The social reasons deal with fairness,” he said. “And it’s better to have the economy above the ground than to be causing problems in an underground market.”
He cited several other reasons that legalization would be beneficial:
- To erase racial profiling which is destroying communities
- It could be taxed and regulated for additional state revenue
- To end illegal drug operations
- To reduce violence
Hawkins at a debate in Rochester, NY on October, 22:
Hawkins was not elected governor, of course. The eventual gubernatorial winner, Andrew Cuomo, lies at the opposite end of the debate. He is opposed to marijuana legalization for recreational or medicinal purposes.
He told the Daily News that “the dangers of medical marijuana outweigh the benefits,” adding that additional state revenues did not legitimize legalization.
The New York City Department of Health outlines some of these dangers:
- Attention, memory and learning problems
- Lung damage
- Social problems, irritability and unfounded aggression
- Loss of energy and motivation
Hawkins, however, said that marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol or tobacco. He said that as governor he would have introduced a bill like California’s recently rejected Proposition 19.
The bill failed, winning the majority vote in only 11 of 58 counties, perhaps illustrating the difficulty in passing such a controversial measure.
With Cuomo in office and proposition 19 shut down, these setbacks are victories for anti-pot proponents – at least for now. But according to some pro-pot enthusiasts, the fight continues.
This means that the pestering going on between these two factions may not be over just yet.
This post was updated on 11/19/10