Former New York City Mayor—and potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate—Michael Bloomberg called efforts to legalize marijuana “perhaps the stupidest thing anybody has ever done.”
Speaking at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on Tuesday, Bloomberg said on the subject, according to WBNG-TV:
“We have a different kind of problem in America, for example. Last year, in 2017, 72,000 Americans [overdosed] on drugs. In 2018, more people than that are OD-ing on drugs, have OD’d on drugs. And today, incidentally, we are trying to legalize another addictive narcotic, which is perhaps the stupidest thing anybody has ever done. We’ve got to fight that, and that’s another thing that Bloomberg Philanthropies will work on it in public health.”
The position from the billionaire politician would seem to be out of step with Democratic leaders in his state and liberal voters nationwide. Newly re-elected New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, for instance, said he would make legalization a priority in a December speech outlining the goals for his first 100 days of his new term.
“The fact is, we have had two criminal justice systems: one for the wealthy and the well-off, and one for everyone else,” Cuomo said in the speech. “And that’s going to end. We must also end the needless and unjust criminal convictions and the debilitating criminal stigma, and let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all.”
Recent polls meanwhile have shown a comfortable majority of Americans support legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. A Gallup poll released in October found that 66 percent of Americans support legalizing the drug, including three-in-four Democrats.
“Like support for gay marriage—and in prior years, interracial marriage—support for marijuana legalization has generally only expanded, even if slowly, over the course of multiple decades—raising the question of where the ceiling in support might be,” the Gallup poll noted. “As the percentage of Americans who favor legalizing pot has continued to grow, so has the number of states that have taken up legislation to allow residents to use the substance recreationally.”
Ten states have already legalized the recreational use of marijuana, including Michigan, which became the latest state to do so with an initiative on the ballot in the 2018 midterm election.
Estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars, Bloomberg is one of the richest people in the world and has long hinted at the possibility of presidential run. A close adviser last month hinted the former mayor would be willing to spend whatever was required should he run in 2020.