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Potential Presidential Candidate Michael Bloomberg's Surprising Stance On Cannabis

Happy Super Tuesday! Today, we'll no doubt see the field for presidential candidates slim down as the race for the Republican and Democratic nominations tightens. But a dark horse could also enter the race, which could have major implications on the marijuana issue.

For weeks, pundits have wondered if former New York mayor and business mogul Michael Bloomberg would enter the race as an independent. Bloomberg himself stoked those rumors Feb. 9, when he told Financial Times that he was making a bid for the White House this year.

If he does enter the ring, he'll automatically become the most anti-cannabis of the remaining candidates. Yes, Bloomberg - who's usually seen as a socially liberal politician - would actually outdo Marco Rubio in his opposition to legalization, recreational and medical.

Last February, Bloomberg spoke at a gathering at the Aspen Institute in Colorado. During his address, he criticized the state's decision to legalize recreational marijuana use as an idiotic move that the nation would sorely regret:

"What are we going to say in 10 years when we see all these kids whose IQs are 5 and 10 points lower than they would have been?" he asked the sold-out crowd. "I couldn't feel more strongly about it, and my girlfriend says it's no different than alcohol. It is different than alcohol. This is one of the stupider things that's happening across our country."

And he isn't any fonder of medical marijuana. During an interview with WOR radio In June 2013, then Mayor Bloomberg was asked about medical marijuana, and he scoffed at the very idea: "Medical, my…come on. There's no medical. This is one of the great hoaxes of all time."

That puts him offside with even the most conservative of Republican candidates, who now mostly favor the legalization of medical marijuana.

Bloomberg was mayor when thousands were arrested for possession

As mayor, Bloomberg supported busting New Yorkers for minor possession offences, which led to 50,000 arrests In 2011.

But he began his mayoral tenure as an unlikely (and unwilling) marijuana advocate. In 2001, a reporter for New York Magazine asked Bloomberg if he had ever used cannabis: "You bet I did. And I enjoyed it," was his response. The following year NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) used the quote for an advocacy campaign in New York. The ads featured the statement alongside Bloomberg's picture.

In an April 2002 interview with the New York Times, Bloomberg said he regretted making that statement, that he opposed decriminalization, and that he thinks the marijuana laws on the books should be enforced. So if he does enter the race, activists should be quick to ask if his view of enforcing the law of the land includes interfering with state-approved medical and recreational marijuana programs.

h/t Financial Times, Slate, Aspen Times, CBS, New York Times

banner image: Julie Angel Saad / Shutterstock


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