Is the Guv Cuomo marijuana about-face paving the way for the Krueger bill?

After I went to all the trouble to agree with Governor Cuomo a year ago, saying I don’t support medical marijuana any more than he said he did, it now turns out that we’re mere moments away from legal weed… for seriously ill patients, only. Yahoo News gets a key point wrong, though:

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has steadily resisted pressure to legalize marijuana, was expected to announce the plan at Wednesday’s State of the State address, according to the newspaper’s website.

That’s not true at all. In fact, he has suggested legalizing the possession 25g or less of marijuana. What he has objected to is medical marijuana. But no longer.

Why the Cuomo marijuana switch? Because medical marijuana is the “gateway drug” to fully-legalized pot? Recent history doesn’t bear this out. Why does California still not have legal weed? No, Colorado and Washington did not bother with this “intermediary” step.

It’s much more likely that, if New York gets medical marijuana, it becomes open season for everybody. What constitutes a “serious” medical condition will be diluted and more and more people will have prescriptions for fun. This is especially true in light of Colorado and Washington getting no-bullshit legal weed.

Speculating from a million miles away it strikes me that, because Governor Cuomo’s plan is to issue an executive order, the Senate and Legislature don’t have to take any heat for legalizing weed. The pressure is off for elected Conservatives who might agree with the idea of reforming our drug laws, but who do so at the peril of alienating their constituencies. They didn’t have to pull the trigger.

But they can vote for the Krueger bill that legalizes and taxes the herbals. Because, gosh, on top of Obamacare we don’t need Liberals in Albany turning doctors into pushers! They can vote for a bill that satisfies both the Libertarians who want weed decriminalized and the social Conservatives who will probably view medical marijuana as a step towards the… oh, Californication.. of New York.

Certainly, I’m hoping there is a Cuomo marijuana plan that extends beyond medical marijuana. New York State struck a major blow for marriage equality and human dignity when they voted to legalize same sex marriage. We can once again strike a blow for social justice by being the most populous state with legal recreational weed, ending decades of useless criminal records, shame, and economic and racial disparity in our justice system.


Down With Earmarks!

Well, the Republicans and Tea Party Activists have laid down their marker for the next session, and it appears to be the abolishment of the much-balleyhooed earmarks from Federal legislation. Mitch McConnell, after first requesting a billion dollars in pork for his state, then opposing the “earmark reform” efforts, now seems to be bowing to the pressure and supporting it.

Only problem is: earmarks only define the way in which money gets spent when a budget gets passed. They don’t actually spend money nor create the expenditures. Its just a way of allowing Congressmen to accept a bill by assuring them that a little bit of that pork barrel spending – if such is the term your most comfortable using – gets “earmarked” for them and their district.

Oh, and the earmarks only represent about 11 billion dollars. Which sounds like a lot, unless you consider the fact that that 11 billion dollars represents less than ten percent of discretionary spending in the federal budget, which itself is about 38% of the total budget. Don’t get out your calculator, I’ll save you the trouble. They’re going to change Washington by adjusting the way 3 percent of the budget gets spent – without actually cutting it.

Supporters of the ban will say that three percent is a good chunk of money. And I agree. But Democrats learned a hard lesson in the last two years, which is that in a bad economy, the American people have very little patience or good-will for the incumbent party. Mitch McConnell may indeed have opposed the earmark reform on the basis of his own personal pork barrel spending. But as a veteran of Washington, he just as likely opposed it for what it is: a complete waste of time.