NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg this week dismissed medical marijuana as a “hoax,” and called the push to legalize cannabis “wrong-headed.”
“Medical, my… come on. There’s no medical,” Bloomberg said on WOR radio Friday. “This is one of the great hoaxes of all time.”
Bloomberg’s remarks came two days after the New York State Assembly passed a bill that would make possession of small amounts of marijuana punishable only by a fine, rather than an arrest.
The remarks also came one day after a news conference by New York Physicians for Compassionate Care, announcing the support of more than 600 doctors in favor of a medical marijuana program in New York State.
But Bloomberg argued that marijuana is dangerous and should not be legalized for any purpose.
“But the bottom line is I’m told marijuana is much stronger today than it was 20 or 30 years ago. I don’t have any personal experience in terms of today. So that’s one problem,” he said.
Bloomberg added that legalizing marijuana does not mean eliminating the black market for drugs, and claimed that marijuana does, in fact, cause dependency.
“And number two, drug dealers have families to feed. If they can’t sell marijuana, they’ll sell something else, and the something else is going to be worse, and the push to legalize this is just wrong-headed. But they say: ‘Oh, well, it’s not going to hurt anybody. It doesn’t lead to dependency.’ Of course it does,” he said. “And you can argue about recreational things, but it’s a very slippery path.”
In response to Bloomberg’s comments, New York Physicians for Compassionate Care vice chairman Dr. Sunil Aggarwal said medical marijuana does, in fact, help people who are in pain or suffering from serious illness.
“Mayor Bloomberg’s statement that medical marijuana is a hoax is tantamount to saying that the moon landing was faked,” Aggarwal said in a news release. “Marijuana, given in oral and inhaled forms, has been shown in large, gold-standard, double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trials conducted at major medical centers to relieve pain and muscle spasm, and stimulate appetite and weight gain in patients with wasting syndromes. The data is published for all to see and has been backed up by biochemistry.”
Some state lawmakers have been pushing for some time for a medical marijuana law in New York State. In April, stage 4 breast cancer patient Beverly McClain joined lawmakers on the steps of City Hall calling for the passage of a law.
“Medical marijuana for me is synonymous with just being able to take a break from all the hell that people like me have to go through,” McClain said in April.
She said a lot of patients are afraid to use marijuana medicinally until it is legal.
“I would really appreciate it if we could pass this law before I die,” she added.
At the event, state Sen. Diane Savino (D-Brooklyn) said 18 states – including New Jersey and Connecticut – have enacted medical marijuana laws to provide relief from diseases or the treatment of diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.
“In New York State, the only choices they have right now are either pain or highly deadly, addictive drugs. We want to give them another choice,” Savino said.
The lawmaker said if enacted, New York would have the most highly regulated, tightly controlled medical marijuana law in the nation.
The bill would allow the use of medical marijuana under a doctor’s supervision for patients with cancer and other severe debilitating or life-threatening conditions.
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