"It’s NORML to Smoke Pot"
$500,000 NYC Ad Campaign Urges Mayor Bloomberg to End City’s Double Standard on Marijuana Arrests
"Of Course I Did. And I Enjoyed It."
Mayor’s Own Pot Smoking Featured in Controversial Newspaper, Radio and Billboard Ads
New Poll Results
Most New Yorkers Oppose City’s Mass Arrest Policy
New York (April 9, 2002) -- The NORML Foundation today unveiled a $500,000 print, broadcast and outdoor advertising campaign in New York City, urging Mayor Michael Bloomberg to end the city’s policy of mass arrests of marijuana smokers, which he inherited from his redecessor, Rudy Giuliani.
The ads prominently feature Mayor Bloomberg’s candid acknowledgement to a journalist that he himself had smoked pot: You bet I did. And I enjoyed it. A full-page ad in today’s New York Times inaugurated the campaign, which also includes sixty-second radio commercials on half a dozen of the city’s top stations, plus outdoor posters on phone kiosks and bus placards being submitted to the city’s transit system.
We salute Mayor Bloomberg for his candor regarding his own use and enjoyment of marijuana, commented Keith Stroup, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), at a New York press conference previewing the new ad campaign.
On the other hand, continued Stroup, while Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Pataki, Lieutenant Governor Donohue and many other public officials in New York acknowledge smoking pot themselves, nonetheless New York City is arresting nearly 1,000 citizens every week for the very same activity simple, nonviolent, personal pot smoking by responsible adults.
In 2000, Stroup added -- the most recent year for which statistics are available --50,000 New Yorkers were arrested for simple marijuana use. Many spent time in jail. Some got permanent criminal records and lost jobs or college scholarships.
In 1992 there were just 2,000 such arrests. Then Mayor Giuliani, departing from state law and past precedent, initiated a new policy of arrest and jail for those caught smoking marijuana in public, rather than simply issuing a citation and collecting a fine. Aggressive street sweeps continue to this day.
We’re not asking Mayor Bloomberg to change the law, Stroup noted. We’re simply asking him to end the double standard by which ‘open container’ violations are handled with a ticket and a fine, while ‘open smoking’ results in arrest and jail.
At their press conference, NORML also released the results of a new Zogby poll conducted last month, which shows that 56 percent of New Yorkers oppose arrests for personal use of marijuana. Just 39 percent support such arrests. Federal government statistics show that one in three U.S. adults have smoked marijuana.
Countering the so-called quality of life argument, NORML argues that the city’s aggressive pursuit of pot smokers doesn’t even result in a lower crime rate. According to Stroup, other major U.S. cities with less aggressive police tactics equal or better New York’s reduced crime rate in recent years.
As for health impacts, according to John P. Morgan, M.D., Professor of Pharmacology at the City University of New York (CUNY) Medical School, Most marijuana use is associated with very minimal adverse health impacts, far less than the trauma of arrest, jail and a permanent criminal record.