.Rudy on Weed

Another bad week for Rudy Giuliani

Last week was a bad one for Rudy Giuliani, though it’s difficult to know how to measure that these days, given the uncountable, ever-mounting, self-generated threats he faces to his own financial security, his freedom and his basic human dignity. 

Under indictment in Georgia, Giuliani’s legal bills and humiliations mounting, his former attorneys are now suing him because, they allege, he has failed to pay $1.3 million in legal fees, we learned last Tuesday.

The next day brought the news that Cassidy Hutchinson, the former White House aide who offered some of the most compelling testimony against Donald Trump during the Jan. 6 hearings, has accused Giuliani in a new book of sexually abusing her on the very day of the attempted coup. Then came word that Giuliani hasn’t paid court-ordered fines to Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, the election workers he falsely accused of stealing votes for Biden, and who are suing him.

I wanted to see if Rudy had said anything about any of this on his radio show, which originates at WABC in New York, but then I noticed that his latest show was apparently about…cannabis, of all things. The title on the station’s website was “No Need For Weed.” So I figured it was almost guaranteed to give me lots of fodder for a hilarious column.

Given Rudy’s unpredictability, I should have known better. In 45 minutes, he never once mentioned weed, despite the title of the episode. He accused President Biden of taking money from the Chinese to let terrorists cross our southern border to “rape your children,” but nothing at all about pot. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t all kinds of perversity to be found at the intersection of Rudy and weed, because of course there is.

It will surprise nobody that Giuliani is a knee-jerk prohibitionist. During his eight years as mayor of New York City, pot busts in New York City soared from 1,450 in 1993, the year before he took office as mayor, to 3,400 in his first year, according to a 2008 report by the New York Civil Liberties Union. The numbers continued to climb, and in his final year, 51,500 people were busted on pot charges.

This was all part of Giuliani’s “quality of life” approach to policing, where he implemented policies like “stop and frisk,” which is exactly what it sounds like: hassling citizens, most of them Black, for nothing in hopes of finding something illegal on their person. The only good thing that could be said about Giuliani’s cannabis record is that his successor’s was even worse: During Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 12 years in office, an eye-popping 438,000 people were arrested on pot charges.

Now, pot is legal in New York.

It’s unclear why Giuliani’s radio show has “weed” in the title even though he never mentions weed. I politely asked his producer, Ted Goodman, about it on Twitter. He blocked me. It’s possible that Giuliani did in fact talk about it, but then decided to edit that part out. If so, the reasons are unclear. I poked around a little to see whether he has said anything lately about cannabis legalization. But surprisingly, given his record and all the strident culture-warring he engages in, I found very little.

It’s difficult to know why he’s gone mostly silent on the issue, but other recent news events might provide a clue. Lev Parnas—Rudy’s erstwhile pal who had helped the former mayor “investigate” Hunter Biden, the now-president’s son, on behalf of Donald Trump—was convicted in 2021 of illegal campaign contributions. He illicitly used money from a Russian oligarch to curry favor with state politicians who, he hoped, would help him get cannabis licenses in legal states.

Parnas and Giuliani are enemies now. Parnas was freed from prison a couple of weeks ago. He told reporters: “I will continue to get the truth out. There’s a lot more that needs to get out about Rudy Giuliani, President—the ex-president, the former guy—Trump and everything that they did.” So, Rudy might think he has some good reasons for avoiding the subject of cannabis, at least for now.

Coda: After making the aforementioned statement, one of the first things Parnas did was request that he be allowed to use medical marijuana while on probation. A judge granted his wish. 

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