Cuomo Says Gateway Theory Is Reason Why He Opposes Marijuana Legalization

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on pot: "I support medical marijuana. I don’t support recreational marijuana."

New York governor and potential 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Cuomo thinks marijuana should remain illegal in New York State because it "leads to other drugs and there's a lot of truth to proof that that's true."

The so-called "gateway theory," which Cuomo was referring to in his comments made on Feb. 10 to a Politico reporter, has been debunked on many occasions, most recently by the DEA in August when they rejected an effort to reschedule cannabis. "LIttle evidence  supports the hypothesis that initiation of marijuana use leads to an abuse disorder with other illicit substances," the DEA stated. The general theory is that marijuana leads to hard drugs like cocaine and heroin. It's a mainstay of the anti-drug message. Surprisingly, a Democrat governor in a liberal state still holds this opinion.

In fact, the exchange with the Politico reporter, Jimmy Vielkind, included Cuomo taking a few, um, potshots at the journalist. Here's how it went:

Vielkind: You've talked a lot about making New York a progressive leader, and in your State of the State written message you talked about restructuring marijuana laws. You haven't embraced recreational marijuana even as other states have, and I'm wondering why are you kind of a stick in the mud about recreational marijuana?

Cuomo: Why am I a stick in the mud about recreational marijuana? That's sort of a loaded questions, wouldn't you say, Jimmy? It has an opinion in it. I support medical marijuana. I don't support recreational marijuana. Apparently you do, which explains some of the stories you've been writing. Recreational marijuana I think should be separated front the workplace. Do we agree on that?

Vielkind: Absolutely. But you've smoked marijuana, you've said you've done so. Why not recreational marijuana? Lots of New Yorkers smoke marijuana unlawfully.

Cuomo: The flip-side argument as you know is it's a gateway drug, and marijuana leads to other drugs and there's a lot of proof that that's true. There's two sides to the argument. But, as of this date, I am unconvinced on recreational marijuana. If you choose to use marijuana recreationally, you know the law. But again, as reporters, I think you should keep it out of the workplace. But it does explains a lot me, Jimmy. I want you to know that."

It appears that Cuomo was suggesting Vielkind is a pot user and advocate of legalization. This exchange was highly inappropriate, something out of Donald Trump's playbook.

Cuomo barely supported medical marijuana when finally the state passed the Compassionate Care Act in 2014. He demanded that smoking not be allowed. The program is widely considered to be the most restrictive in the country, and continues to have problems attracting patients.

State Sen. Liz Krueger is sponsoring a bill that would legalize marijuana. Based on Cuomo's comments, he would veto it. Is this anyway for the Democratic governor of the Empire State to act?

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.