New York Mayor Bill de Blasio supports Governor Andrew Cuomo's pledge to legalize recreational marijuana in the Empire State, but he doesn't want the the market to be overrun by big corporations when cannabis prohibition is repealed.
"We have an industry that is just licking its chops, waiting to come in and corporatize marijuana—to do exactly what the tobacco industry did with cigarettes, to do exactly what the pharmaceutical industry did with things like oxycontin. What we need [to do] is legalize marijuana without corporatized marijuana," Mayor De Blasio told Bill Maher on Friday.
To prevent that from happening, the mayor wants to hand the market over to former victims of cannabis prohibition—people who were arrested and imprisoned for marijuana-related offsenses. That means creating incentives for people of color, who have been disproportionately impacted by the criminalization of cannabis.
"For years and years, broken laws sent a huge number of Americans to jail—most of them, people of color," De Blasio explained. He added that turning the market over to them was about recognizing that terrible fact while trying to right the wrongs of the past. "It's a way to say we had an injustice, now let's give the very people who were the victims, the economic benefit."
Maher, who is a passionate advocate for cannabis legalization, admired the mayor's intentions but doubted that his ideals could be turned into reality. Check out his response in this clip.