Incumbent governor of New York Andrew Cuomo defeated his cannabis-friendly progressive opponent Cynthia Nixon in yesterday’s hotly contested primary to see which of the two would represent the Democratic Party on the governor’s race ballot in November.
Cuomo will be seeking his 3rd consecutive term in the office but it took relentless pro-cannabis advocacy by the former Sex in the City starlet on the 2018 campaign trail to finally shake the old man into admitting that the state has some work to do when it comes to marijuana reform.
Indeed, Nixon should be given plenty of credit for helping to shape the conversation about cannabis in the Big Apple. She has effectively used her platform as a well-known and well-respected celebrity to catapult her role as an activist into the spotlight, and as a result, the inevitable legalization of the recreational use of cannabis became a main plank of the debates between the two.
As recently as last year, Gov. Cuomo was on record still referring to cannabis as a “gateway drug” and Nixon’s camp contends that his sudden shift on policy is due to their incessant pressure from his political left flank on the issue.
But, in reality, pressure from opponents, voters, or even one’s own morals rarely steer an entire campaign.
No… money does.
You can chart the timing of Governor of the Big Apple Cuomo’s about face on weed right alongside the moment when MedMen Enterprises started cutting him 5-figure campaign contribution checks, and suddenly the smoke begins to clear.
The first bribe….errrr…contribution came in the form of a fat $65,000 donation to the Cuomo Campaign from MedMen Opportunity Fund II LLC, a political action committee set up to influence politicians and sway them towards favorable legislation for big corporate cannabis.
That was followed by a $25,000 injection from MedMen’s President and co-founder, Andrew Modlin.
In a move that left many scratching their heads, some random Christian non-profit mission kicked in $50,000 to help re-elect the governor, but it was soon discovered that the money was funneled through by MedMen.
That is at least $140,000 in campaign donations from one entity in the past year.
That will get any politician’s attention, and in Cuomo’s case, can make them see the light.
For MedMen, they now hold one of just ten highly coveted licenses to cultivate and sell cannabis in the state. They’ll make that $140k back, and then some, the first weekend that the Big Apple goes legal.
By comparison, Nixon’s campaign refused all PAC and Super PAC donations, as well as all donations from the cannabis industry. Instead, she encouraged her grassroots support system to setup a monthly automatic donation of $4.20 to stand with her on cannabis reform.
As noble as that was, we see where it got her.
It’s really a shame because Nixon’s support for cannabis legalization was not based on the potential profits of her largest donors, but instead sought to truly reform the societal and racial biases that still hang over the plant.
Her campaign was loudly critical of how “white wealthy men seem to be predominantly profiting from the legalization movement”.
“(Nixon) believes we need to ensure that communities of color, who for so long were disproportionately criminalized for marijuana use, reap the benefits,” campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt recently told Cannabis Wire.
As much as we oppose the dominating rise of corporate cannabis in the legal marketplace, we’ve got to acknowledge that since MedMen is so deep in Cuomo’s pocket, recreational cannabis legalization is likely just a block or two away for the Big Apple.