The Straight Dope on Dope From Gov. David Paterson

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Governor David Paterson of New York stopped short of endorsing the legalization of marijuana in his interview for my latest magazine piece: A Drug War Truce?

But the governor was astoundingly frank about the relative harmlessness of marijuana compared to pernicious (and legal) drugs, including alcohol.

You can only get the full version of the magazine piece in the physical magazine, but here is an extended version of the Governor's remarks that you won't find on any newsstand:

Rolling Stone: Politicians like Jim Webb and Governor Schwarzenegger have said, "Let's debate this." Let's talk about whether marijuana should be brought in from the cold, as it were, for responsible adults. Where you stand on that?

Gov. Paterson: Marijuana always appeared to be a substance for which great punishment was meted out for very little demonstrated problem with the actual substance. You can really document what the excesses of alcohol have done on the roadways of our country; you can't really do that with marijuana.

Our society is odd because we have this contempt for marijuana smoking, meanwhile people have access to pharmaceutical products that are just destroying them. The same people who rail about marijuana use are draped over a bar and then get in the car and kill people. I wouldn't suggest driving under the influence of marijuana either [Laughs]. I'm just saying that we've always seemed to have an uneven policy.

At this particular time, when we've passed drug laws hopefully to help people and help fight addiction, I don't know if I would want to support the legalization of marijuana. But I'd certainly be open to a conversation on the subject.

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