Brooklyn Boro

Pro Bono Barrister: ‘Gov. Moonbeam’ now opposes legalizing marijuana

March 17, 2014 By Charles F. Otey, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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When California Gov. Jerry Brown stunned many long-time followers as he came right out and blasted the legalization of marijuana, the result was a nationwide wake-up call. Elected officials everywhere realized that even though sale of “MJ” might bring in hundreds of millions in taxes, the long-time “Reefer Madness” stigma still haunted its advocates.

Shortly after his surprising outburst – after all he was known at one time as the free-spirited “Governor Moonbeam” — news leaked out here in New York that our state assembly is inserting medical marijuana funding into its upcoming budget.

Manhattan Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who’s been around long enough to recall the days legalizing MJ for any reason was little more than a pipe dream, has pushed the bill through the Assembly’s Health Committee. He has to know the bill’s fate in the Senate is dim.

The senate is run by Republicans and an intricate “Independent Democratic Conference” consisting of four Democratic senators who are enjoying the benefits of their committed bipartisanship.

Brooklyn has the only senate Republican — Sen. Marty Golden, whose district extends from Bay Ridge to Gerritsen Beach. An ex-cop, the senator must appreciate the fact that district includes a substantial number of cops and daughters and sons of cops. In addition, he is probably less than intimidated by his likely Democratic foe come November – one-time councilman at large and former Republican John Gangemi.

Republicans, however, are not taking the Gangemi campaign lightly. An attorney, still known for his get-out-the-vote skills in his earlier political life, Gangemi has the means and the drive to make this quite an interesting race.

In addition, observers note that he has an election team in place as a result of his losing canpaign for borough president last year.  “Gangemi was a very, very long shot against Eric Adams,” a colleague said, “But he and his people now have a better idea of what’s going on now in the minds of voters and are prepared to run a competitive race.”

Sen. Golden can easily oppose the bill passed by Gottfried’s committee without much of a risk. He’ll work to aid GOP Senate Dean Skelos in, once again,  defeating a marijuana measure despite its solid Assembly support.

Democratic Senator Diane Savino, whose district includes much of Staten Island and a narrow swath of Brooklyn, appeared ambivalent about  this  controversial measure. Even though  she’s a member of the Independent Democratic Conference, Savino passed up an opportunity to discuss Gottfried’s bill.

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