Free Minds & Free Markets

Michael Bloomberg: Legalizing Weed 'Is Perhaps the Stupidest Thing We’ve Ever Done'

It's safe to say this guy would not make a good president.

ALLISON SHELLEY/REUTERS/NewscomALLISON SHELLEY/REUTERS/NewscomAs he considers a 2020 run for the Democratic presidential nomination, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is continuing to defend his controversial positions on several issues. Speaking yesterday at the United States Naval Academy's 2019 Leadership Conference in Annapolis, Maryland, Bloomberg explained why he opposes marijuana legalization and still believes "stop and frisk" was a good idea.

Bloomberg's stances aren't anything new. But they're a good reminder that, as Reason's Scott Shackford argued in October, the possible presidential candidate is no lover of liberty.

For one thing, Bloomberg remains vociferously opposed to weed, appearing to tie drug overdose deaths to marijuana legalization. "Last year, in 2017, 72,000 Americans OD'd on drugs," he said, according to CNN's Donald Judd. "In 2018, more people than that are ODing on drugs, have OD'd on drugs, and today incidentally, we are trying to legalize another addictive narcotic, which is perhaps the stupidest thing we've ever done," he declared, presumably talking about marijuana. "We've got to fight that," Bloomberg added.

Bloomberg was likely referencing Centers for Disease Control statistics showing that 72,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2017. But it's hard to see how that relates to marijuana legalization. As I pointed out in December, the Drug Enforcement Agency did not report any deaths from marijuana in 2017. According to David Schmader, author of Weed: The User's Guide, you'd need to consume 1,500 pounds of the stuff within 15 minutes to fatally overdose.

Moreover, numerous studies (six of which Reason's C.J. Ciaramella rounded up last February), show that opioid addiction does not start with marijuana. For more on the "gateway drug" myth, you can read Jacob Sullum's comprehensive dive into the subject here.

But Bloomberg has long been ignorant when it comes to weed. In 2013, he called medical marijuana "one of the greatest hoaxes of all time," despite endless evidence to the contrary. And in 2015, he said marijuana legalization is "one of the stupider things that's happening across our country."

To his credit, Bloomberg announced in February 2013 that people arrested for possessing small amounts of weed would be given an appearance ticket and released, rather than be locked up overnight. But this did not address the issue of arrests themselves. In 2012, more than 40,000 people were arrested for low-level marijuana arrests, according to the NYC Criminal Justice Agency.

Thousands of those arrests came courtesy of another controversial stance that Bloomberg defended yesterday: stop and frisk. Under that program, police would detain and search citizens based on a reasonable suspicion they were armed. Though as the New York Civil Liberties Union has noted, police recovered just 729 firearms in 2012 due to stop and frisk. By contrast, more than 26,000 people were stopped on suspicion of alleged marijuana possession, leading to roughly 5,000 arrests.

In Bloomberg's mind, stop and frisk helped lower the city's murder rate. He said:

We focused on keeping kids from going through the correctional system, where they just came out worse than they came in, kids who walked around looking like they might have a gun, remove the gun from their pockets and stop it, and the result of that was, over the years, the murder rate in New York City went from 650 a year to 300 a year when I left.

Bloomberg's argument is flawed. As Sullum noted in September, crime in New York actually started declining in the '90s. And while that decline continued while stop and frisk was in full effect, the homicide rate still went down by 43 percent between 2011 and 2017—as the program was being phased out!

Stop and frisk was also unconstitutional—police shouldn't be able to stop people without probable cause. And as a federal judge ruled in 2013, the program affected mostly innocent people and minorities. "Nearly 90 percent of the people stopped are released without the officer finding any basis for a summons or arrest," wrote then-Judge Shira Scheindlin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, according to The New York Times. She also said the New York City Police Department engaged in a "policy of indirect racial profiling" by regularly stopping "blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white."

Bloomberg, meanwhile, said yesterday that "we certainly did not pick somebody by race." Rather, police "went to a place where there was somebody that had been murdered…and that's where you looked for kids who might have a gun." Of course, that's hardly good enough justification to stop and pat down tens of thousands of innocent people.

Bloomberg's comments yesterday came as he considers whether or not to run for president in 2020. "I said I'd take a look at it in January, February. We're still in January," he said.

If he does run, he has a "slim, none, and fat" chance of winning, as Reason's Matt Welch explained in November. That's probably for the best. There's are plenty of reasons, after all, why Reason highlighted him as one our "45 Enemies of Freedom" in the 45th anniversary issue in 2013.


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  • Billy Bones||

    Listening to Michael Bloomberg is the stupidest thing anyone can do.

  • AlmightyJB||


  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    AOC says hold my beer.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Yeah. She drinks beer.

  • Zeb||

    Only Schaefer.

  • Fats of Fury||

    PBR, ironically.

  • ||

    And only when politically expedient.

  • Wizard4169||

    Listening to him isn't a good idea, but it's not nearly as stupid as voting for him.

  • MSimon||

    You have to name them correctly. They are not "anti-legalization people". They are "cartel supporters".

  • Tul­pa||

    Firm but fair.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    The cartel doesn't make any money on weed anymore. Their product is garbage, and there is so much cheap weed that is superior.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    Exactly why the cartel supporters are trying to ban domestic weed.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Eveni illegal weed is too cheap for them to make any money. Their stuff is garbage.

  • MSimon||

    As to him becoming President. The odds fall somewhere between zero and impossible.

  • Longtobefree||

    Didn't I hear that when Trump announced?

  • Yellow Tony||

    Trump isn't white.

  • smartmuffin||

    He's gonna do great among the demographic of Americans that hate marijuana and also are in favor of strict gun control. He might get the votes of both of them.

  • Rich||

  • Billy Bones||

    A more convincing case to keep marijuana illegal:

    "I smoke two joints everyday and just listen to the stupid shit that comes out of my mouth. Don't let your children become a dumbass like me. Keep weed illegal"--Michael Bloomberg

  • DajjaI||

    I'd still vote for him, assuming I'm not detained or deported by then. Why? Because I can fight him on these nanny state issues. But he's mostly a capitalist, and he's a technocrat. I feel we could use a little sobriety (pun intended) after the last few years.

  • Rockabilly||

    Make the Big Gulps totally illegal along with the marijuanas !!!

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    The Big Gulp issue is a small component of a larger issue. Using authority to force government's idea of healthy choices upon the people.

    Also, he tried to do ban the Big Gulp via the health department's authority. Which they did not have the authority to do, but Bloomberg didn't car.

  • Just Say'n||

    Also tried to force stores to put baby formula behind store counters to encourage breastfeeding. He's a garbage person

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Bloomberg is worse than Tulpa.

  • Tul­pa||

    That's something you have in common with him then.

  • Chipper Morning Wood||

    Take your compliment and sit your ass down.

  • Tul­pa||

    I'm sorry I was cruel to you baby.

  • Yellow Tony||

    Sure, that's pretty shitty. But breastfeeding is hot, so I'm all for it.

  • Zeb||

    And if you are going to encourage something, it's a pretty good thing to encourage. (SLD against social engineering applies)

  • Just Say'n||


  • Yellow Tony||


  • BestUsedCarSales||

    You're a true oddity on this site Dajjal. I'm glad we have your unique perspective.

  • Marc St. Stephen||

    "I'd still vote for him, assuming I'm not detained or deported by then. Why? Because I can fight him on these nanny state issues."

    Really? How? Because this country has such a stellar track record of successfully fighting nanny state laws?

  • Rockabilly||

    Unnamed sources say Michael Bloomberg is a gay tri-racial, transgender, lesbian cosmopolite who has been crying non stop since fellow globalist elite, Hillary Clinton, lost the presidency.

  • Just Say'n||

    Annnnnd....he just won the Democratic nomination

  • ||

    -1 'vouching for' from Bill Weld.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Slouching for Bill Weld?

  • Eddy||

    What Weld beast
    Slouches toward the LP convention to be nominated?

  • ||

    He just self-identifies as tri-racial. If that sweetens the pot any.

  • darkflame||

    The dumbest thing he's ever done was being born instead of swallowed.

  • Just Say'n||

    You mean the dumbest thing his mom has done?

  • Tul­pa||

    Based on the construction of the sentence, no that isn't what he means.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Fucking vorefags.

  • Sevo||

    "Michael Bloomberg: Legalizing Weed 'Is Perhaps the Stupidest Thing We've Ever Done'"

    That would be electing that authoritarian POS to any office at all.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Bloomberg might be bad on the War on Drugs. But he more than makes up for it with his stances on two other issues of major importance to us left-libertarians — common sense gun safety legislation, and reproductive rights. My top 3 choices are still Harris, Gillibrand, and Warren. But Bloomberg is among the better cis-male candidates.

  • Old Mexican - Mostly Harmless||

    If there's one thing that is true when it comes to such thing as "common sense gun control" or social security etc. and that politicians seem to always forget is that people don't like it when you take their things, so good luck with that.

  • Zeb||

    Just stop it. It stopped being funny months ago.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    I'm still trying to figure out why you are even on this site.

    Nope, let me retract that. It isn't worth the effort. Go back to Mother Jones where you belong.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Go away, Mike.

  • ||

    Never say never. America voted for a trio of illiberal in intersectional feminist Omar, 'impeach the motherfucker' Tlaib and illiterate AOC.

    As for B'Berg. This from the guy who banned sugary drinks and salt.

    Get bent.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    This from the guy who banned sugary drinks and salt.

    As long as he didn't ban access to abortion care, he's still more libertarian than any Republican.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    He also tried to bam infant's formula because he thinks it is important to force mothers to nurse their babies. He issued an order to have formula locked up, requiring a doctor's prescription.

  • Kevin Smith||

    Bloomberg's brand of "benevolent" dictatorship is no more libertarian than any other dictatorship

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Not fair, Rufus. Small, concentrated regions of stupid voted for Omar, Tlaib, and Cortez.

  • ||

    Yeh but they're IN CONFRICKENGRESS!

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Another small, concentrated region of stupid.

  • jampoker||

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  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    In less important world news, Venezuela appears to be on the brink of potentially exploding into civil war.

    Now back to your regularly scheduled culture war nonsense.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Maduro still has the support of the military. Unless they suddenly decide to recognize Guiado, I don't forsee any changes.

    One-offs mean nothing. When a brigade decides to change their allegiance, then it's a story worth watching.

  • Old Mexican - Mostly Harmless||

    A self-aggrandizing and vane New York billionaire would not make a good president?

    I, of course, agree!

    (Albeit to be fair Bloomberg is a real billionaire while Orange Potatoman has lived on credit and on stiffing his vendors pretty much all his professional life.)

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    "'Orange Potatoman has lived on credit and on stiffing his vendors "'

    Like many citizens in the US.

  • Philadelphia Collins||

    How's the war with North Korea going?

  • Cyto||

    Yeah Joe, nice write-up on the marijuana legalization issue. But really, you missed an opportunity.

    The real way to cover this story was just to link to video of Bloomberg calling for banning large sodas.

  • Zeb||

    Legalizing large sodas is the stupidest thing we've ever done!

  • gaoxiaen||

    Nobody needs a high-capacity cup.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Every unpopular action he takes is for the better interest of others. He is truly evil.

    /no, not sarcasm.

  • awildseaking||

    The idea that marijuana doesn't kill is like saying alcohol doesn't kill because someone has to drive drunk or do something incredibly stupid before their habits become fatal. Weed should be legal but that doesn't mean it's perfectly safe and research has continued to prove that it isn't the harmless plant so many activists make it out to be. By all means harm yourself, but Bloomberg is internally consistent. He's a statist. He doesn't care about policy or procedure, only that you do what he thinks is best for you.

  • IJustWorkHere||

    "you'd need to consume 1,500 pounds of the stuff within 15 minutes to fatally overdose"

    I bet if you consumed 10 pounds worth of hotdogs within 10 minutes, you could win Nathan's Hotdog Eating Contest.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    It's actually pretty easy to directly OD on alcohol. But the internal consistency would come from calling the end of prohibition a huge mistake as well.

  • Zeb||

    Marijuana doesn't kill. Some people might do stupid stuff when stoned that gets them killed. But they did that stuff, not the marijuana. Blaming people's poor choices on drugs they take is dumb and a way to deflect responsibility and enable tyranny.
    Alcohol, on the other hand, is acutely toxic in amounts that are fairly easy to consume.

  • awildseaking||

    You would have to be delusional to suggest that deaths resulting from lack of/poor motor skills directly resulting from being high had absolutely nothing to do with their smoking.

    Nobody blames weed for making someone drive will high, just like nobody blames alcohol for DUIs. I was merely bringing up the objective realities of THC and why so many professional organizations that require extreme manual dexterity, such as manufacturing and medicine, ban marijuana use just like they do alcohol and tobacco.

  • Zeb||

    Nah, it's mostly insurance.

  • Zeb||

    And I'm going to need to see some data to support the notion that marijuana kills in the sense you describe any more than ordinary distraction or tiredness.

  • CDRSchafer||

    In all fairness he was a much better Mayor than De Blowzio and David Dinkins.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Not a high bar to clear.

  • Echospinner||

    Bloomberg needs to chilllz.

    He is a bright guy. He is just bored so he goes around fixing problems that do not exist and annoying people who want to be left alone.

    We should find him another project like saving the sea animals or the NY Mets.


  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Bloomberg needs to have a relaxing afternoon. Maybe smoke a few bowls of some really good WA cannabis, wash it down with a few big gulps and spend the day at the gun range. Then back home to slug down a pint of baby formula.

  • Calidissident||

    I don't think we have to worry about this one becoming president, and I'll reiterate that to anyone making Trump comparisons. Bloomberg has zero significant constituency within the national Democratic voter base.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    He won't become President, but I sincerely hope he enters the primaries. In fact, I sincerely hope there are more Dems in the primaries this go-round than there were Republicans in 2015-16 because it will be an absolute joy to watch all the factions tear each others' throats out while ripping that party to shreds. I can't wait.

  • Quo Usque Tandem|| who walked around looking like they might have a gun"

    I need a visual.

  • Zeb||

    They are male and have dark skin tone.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    We focused on keeping kids from going through the correctional system, where they just came out worse than they came in

    Real good, Mike. How about fixing the correctional system while you're at it??!!!

  • Mickey Rat||

    Bloomberg represents the positions of the sane center of American politics. According to Bloomberg.


    Fuck him. He doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning anything in today's political climate.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Too old, and too white.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    I've often thought of a country where the only government function was to be neutral arbitrator in harm redress suits prosecuted by victims. One of my ancillary ideas is how to accommodate statists who want other people to tell them what to do, and coercively enforce the necessary contracts. So you could sign up with an association which would have the legal power to kidnap you, imprison you, and steal your money, all as they determine. Of course, there'd have to be the equivalent of safe words, say by requiring all contracts to expire yearly.

    Bloomberg would be a fantastic king in such a situation. You couldn't find a truer, more consistent, more predictable nanny scold.

  • Third Down Time to Punt||

    "One of my ancillary ideas is how to accommodate statists who want other people to tell them what to do, and coercively enforce the necessary contracts. So you could sign up with an association which would have the legal power to kidnap you, imprison you, and steal your money, all as they determine."

    Like a HOA with guns.

  • Uncle Jay||

    No, making Bloomberg the mayor of NYC is the stupidest thing the people of NY has ever done.

  • Zeb||

    Stupider than making DeBlasio mayor?

  • Tionico||

    no soda straws, no sugary drinks, no guns for thee but plenty for me and mine, and thanks all the same I do not trust the government of this carribean island nation I am visiting so I WILL bring my own ARMED security detail, never mind it flies in the face of ALL your stupid local laws...... I could go on, but this clown has set himself up as a swelled headed nannie of the worst order. He thinks HIS money can get HIM whatever he wants, and those that don't like it can always pound sand or shuffle off to Buffalo...

    Who needs a dictator?

  • dangfitz||

    2nd worst case of Short Man's Disease in history.

  • Tamfang||

    you'd need to consume 1,500 pounds of [marijuana] within 15 minutes to fatally overdose.

    Maybe so, but remember that today's marijuana is many times stronger than that of fifty years ago; if the trend continues, pretty soon the lethal dose will be only 500 pounds within an hour!

  • Olderthandirt-stillkickin||

    One of the reasons we have the SOTUS is to filter all of the "Great Ideas" people in positions of power have for "fixing" problems (read: things they don't agree with). I mean, being a leader doesn't mean one is innately RIGHT, just that they're in a position to inflict WRONG ideas on us. Some of these folks from New York recently appear to have tunnel vision and think the middle of Montana is exactly the same as the middle of the Big Apple.

  • TxJack 112||

    The Nanny state mayor wants to tell you how you must live your life... I am so shocked.

  • Ragnarredbeard||

    No Mikey, you've done lots of thing worse than that.

  • Uncle Jay||

    Bloomie is a proud gun grabber and wants only cops and his body guards to own firearms.
    Guns for me, but not for thee.

  • ||

    Nothing turns middle Americans off to awful, liberal ideas than its mouthpiece being a whiny, billionaire Jew from New York.

  • vek||

    Of ALL the horrible positions this guy has, these two are the ones you harp on? Shit his tax policies, and gun stuff are even worse IMO. This guy is basically horrible on every single front. I don't recall a single redeeming thing about this guy from all the years he has been in the media.


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