Following the Money: Is Cuomo Softening His Stance on Marijuana?

By Amanda Weston

A report released this week claiming that New York gubernatorial incumbent Andrew Cuomo accepted more donations from the cannabis industry than his re-election campaign disclosed has raised some eyebrows about the Democrat's views on marijuana.

"Cuomo's not coming out in full force of endorsing legalization," said Alyson Martin, co-founder of CannabisWire, the publication that released the report. "But he is accepting money from the cannabis industry and from big players in the cannabis industry."

Cuomo has been notoriously inconsistent about his position on pot. He once called it a "gateway drug," but has also said that medicinal marijuana may be acceptable in some cases.

But CannabisWire will continue to follow Cuomo's money, Martin said.

"Part of the reason that CannabisWire is looking into the flow of money from the Cannabis industry to political candidates is because, as we all know, elected officials may say one thing but the money tells another story."

The site reported that Cuomo accepted about $150,000 from large cannabis companies. CannabisWire found a $50,000 donation linked to a non-profit Christian mission actually came from MedMen, a cannabis company, meaning the sum wasn't properly attributed to its real source in Cuomo's disclosure. The company later claimed the incorrect listing was a clerical error.

Whether the news will actually sway Cuomo's chances against political newcomer Cynthia Nixon, though, is unclear.

The actress and activist has been a strong advocate of legalizing marijuana. She, like many other liberals, considers it a racial justice issue, since more people of color are arrested for marijuana offenses than Caucasians.

Cuomo admitted during the televised gubernatorial debate on Wednesday that he believes the benefits of legalization outweigh the risks but was not as forceful as Nixon.

But Martin thinks his donors are hoping he'll eventually become a proponent for cannabis legalization .

"I certainly think that it's a strong shove in that direction," Martin said. "These are not the mom-and-pop companies that are supporting candidates. These are bigger companies."

Cuomo's campaign did not respond to CannabisWire's request for comment. Martin doesn't think the Governor has violated campaign finance laws, but her outlet is continuing its investigation.

For full interview click here.

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