New York City Michael Bloomberg lashed out at the medical marijuana community during his weekly radio show on Friday.
“Medical, my foot,” Bloomberg told WOR-AM host John Gambling. “There is no medical. This is one of the great hoaxes of all times. The bottom line is, I’m told marijuana is much stronger today than it was 20, 30 years ago.”
The mayor’s statements came a day after the state assembly approved a bill decriminalizing small amounts of the drug.
Bloomberg quickly added that he had “no personal experience” smoking marijuana in recent years. But as Gothamist noted on Friday, he has smoked the drug in his past; in 2002 he said he regretted telling New York magazine, “You bet I did. And I enjoyed it.”
Besides his problems with the alleged potency of modern marijuana, Bloomberg said he opposed legalized marijuana sales because “drug dealers” would only be encouraged to sell more illegal drugs.
“Drug dealers have families to feed,” he said to Gambling. “If they can’t sell marijuana, they’ll sell something else. And the something else will be something worse, and the push to legalize this is wrongheaded.”
Bloomberg also complained about unnamed prescription drugs with “hallucinogenic characteristics or effects,” which allegedly prompted drug store robberies, although he did not explain how that related to medicinal marijuana, which is most often sold in separate establishments.
State Sen. Diane Savino (D), who is co-sponsoring a bill legalizing the drug for medical uses, told the New York Post she was willing to bring patients who need it to meet Bloomberg to illustrate the reality of their situation.
“We’re talking about people with terminal illnesses, seizure disorders,” Savino said to the newspaper. “We’re not talking about recreational use.”
The mayor’s remarks were also blasted by a medical advocacy group, NY Physicians for Compassionate Care. On Thursday, the organization held a press conference announcing that 600 physicians from across the state supported the newly-passed assembly bill.
“Mayor Bloomberg’s statement that medical marijuana is a hoax is tantamount to saying that the moon landing was faked,” said a spokesperson for the group, Sunil Aggarwal, in a statement. “Marijuana, given in oral and inhaled forms, has been shown in large, gold-standard, double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trials conducted at major medical centers to relieve pain and muscle spasm, and stimulate appetite and weight gain in patients with wasting syndromes. The data is published for all to see and has been backed up by biochemistry.”
Listen to Bloomberg’s remarks, aired Friday, below.