The next mayor of New York City will help usher in the decriminalization of marijuana, regardless of which candidate wins the seat.
Mayoral aspirants Bill de Blasio and Joseph Lhota, who were selected as nominees to represent their respective Democratic and Republican parties following primary elections earlier this month, are both fervent proponents of decriminalizing marijuana.
De Blasio has amassed attention from left-leaning constituents for his progressive views on marijuana legislation. He supports mitigating the legal consequences of medical and recreational usage. “I support legislation to decriminalize the display of small amounts of marijuana,” the Democratic candidate said in July during a public, online interview. “The current law saddles many young people with a criminal record unfairly and it must be changed. I think there are appropriate medical uses for marijuana and I am open to policies that allow for medical use.”
De Blasio, along with former Democratic candidates Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson, admitted to smoking marijuana in the past while John Liu and Sal Albanese, who have never tried the psychoactive substance, both support its full legalization nonetheless.
Republican candidates in the mayoral race have also taken a more broad-minded stance on the regulation of marijuana. Last month, Lhota admitted to smoking marijuana over 40 years ago and was the first major candidate to come out in support of legalization back when he was the transit chief of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Former GOP mayoral candidates George McDonald and John Catsimatidis both advocate for the loosening of marijuana legislation — McDonald supports decriminalization while Catsimatidis supports regulated medical marijuana.
And Independence Party mayoral candidate Adolfo Carrión, Jr., who is running against de Blasio and Lhota, has also admitted to smoking marijuana in his lifetime and supports its decriminalization.
The three nominees representing the Democratic, Republican and Independent parties believe that marijuana laws in New York City, which have led to over 400,000 low-level arrests and have cost nearly $600 million in taxes throughout Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure, must become more flexible. And a strong majority of former candidates belonging to the aforementioned political parties have also expressed their relatively liberal view of marijuana legislation.
Whether de Blasio, Lhota, or Carrión wins the mayoral election slated for November 5, the next mayor of New York City will undoubtedly have a more progressive approach to marijuana regulation and will aid decriminalization efforts. Although the legislative powers of the mayor may be limited by the City Council and state legislature, having a City Hall incumbent in favor of loosening the consequences of marijuana possession could prevent the incarceration of thousands and can help save millions in tax dollars used for policing.