NORML Foundation To Launch Second NYC Times Square Billboard Campaign

New Ad Debuts On April 20 On The CBS Super Screen

Washington, DC: The NORML Foundation, the educational arm of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), will debut its second-ever digital ad this Tuesday, April 20, on the CBS Super Screen in New York City’s Times Square.

The animated billboard advertisement will highlight the dramatic increase in New York City’s rate of marijuana possession arrests, which increased from fewer than 1,000 annually in 1992 to more than 46,000 in 2009.

According to a 2008 study released by the New York Civil Liberties Union, City police have made an estimated 400,000 marijuana possession arrests over the past decade. The majority of citizens arrested for marijuana possession offenses are either African American or Hispanic.

The ad concludes: “Legalize marijuana. Stop arrests.”

NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre called the City’s marijuana-centric arrest practices ‘shameful’ and ‘fiscally irresponsible.’ He said: “Under state law, minor marijuana possession offenses are categorized as a violation, not a criminal offense. Yet New York City police officers are effectively circumventing state law by charging tens of thousands of young adults each year with unnecessary criminal misdemeanors by claiming that the marijuana was possessed ‘in plain view.’ This is a shameful and fiscally irresponsible policy that disproportionately targets minorities and does nothing to improve public safety. It is time for City law enforcement to stop wasting taxpayers’ dollars and to abide by the state’s longstanding decriminalization law.”

The NORML Foundation’s new ad will appear eighteen times per day on the CBS’s digital billboard, located on 42nd Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues. Approximately 1.5 million people walk by the billboard each day.

In March, NORML launched a 15-second digital ad trumpeting the cost savings and tax revenue that could be generated by regulating and taxing adult marijuana use. That ad, available online at:, will continue to air until Monday, April 19.

NORML’s forthcoming advertisement will air through May 2010.

Founded in 1970, NORML is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots organization advocating on behalf of marijuana law reform. The NORML Foundation was founded in 1997 to support public education, research, stake holder organizing and impact litigation. In 2009, NORML Foundation launched the first-ever nationwide television ad campaign calling for the regulation of marijuana by adults.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of The NORML Foundation, at (202) 483-5500.

27 thoughts

  1. i was swarmed by nyc undercover police who had no probable cause i was parked, they pulled me out of my car saw i was completely sober and there was no burnt marijuana smell and yet they still tore my car apart and found .6 grams of marijuana which were far from in plain view, i had to spend a night in jail for that and now i can’t get hired by anyone until it comes off my record, im happy the word is getting out that cops are bored and are ignoring the more serious substances just to make their captains happy that they have prisoners in the holding cells. thanks norml.

  2. That’s a fantastic ad folks, thanks for making this happen. I think this is a much more powerful message than anything relating to public revenue.

  3. High, Cool, I am happy and proud to see what is happening. Allen, I remember when we moved you guys into the “new” office in ’92…Wow, keep up the good work, my friend. We started a trend by putting the billboard up in Little rock about that time, when Clinton was in transition, but this one is awesome.

  4. I’m just euphoric to have found out there was someone that thought the laws for marijuana were outrageous!! I found out about NORML a couple of years ago; I think that was one the most happiest days of my life. I’m still not sure what “4/20” is, but it sounds good to me for various reasons!!!!

  5. it’s phenomenal that’s these ads are finally up, but i feel that they aren’t providing any pivotal evidence against prohibition. if a closed-minded person were to see this ad, and many will, they’ll be thinking “good, more criminals are being put away”. all i’m saying is that legalization ads need a bit more ethos, because simply telling them that the rate of marijuana arrests in new york city have risen will not open their eyes.

  6. yes right on great

    i’ve been yelling about this issue for a couple of years over at nytimes comments.

    this is a huge opportunity to stop the cops who are clearly being fascist dickheads.

  7. I liked the “Money CAN grow on trees” ad better. This isn’t very convincing. Yes, a lot of marijuana arrests are putting harmless citizens in jail but its still illegal. Thus, they should be put in jail. It’s not a very convincing argument.

  8. As always I am completely supportive of any type of action NORML takes place, however, this new ad doesn’t seem to reach out to the uneducated masses, but instead seems to be trying to rally those who are already supportive of it to make a stand against the police who are NOT abiding by the state law they sworn to abide by and protect.
    In my personal opinion, I think what we need to be doing at this crucial point in the legalization and decriminalization revolution would be to try to teach those who have not been properly educated on the subject, such as those who still believe in the gateway drug theory or the whole frying your brain cells thing. If we want to get on to the next step in legalization, we have to start with education to the uneducated by informing them of the truth, by bringing up studies, by quoting numbers that we learned from NORML, anything to open their eyes to the truth.
    Remember, talk to your neighbors, friends, and most importantly to your legislation members, and be sure to talk seriously about the subject.
    PS: In TN our health committee is severely lacking in information, and as I keep myself up to date with the legislation, I notice that the ones who are opposed seem to already be biased against it with false information, despite the fact that if passed it would be the strictest medical marijuana bill in the country… if we fail this bill for the second year in a row, it will only be because we have failed to properly inform the people who are suppose to represent us of the truth.

  9. This is exactly the type of thing I love to see norml do. I’ve donated some bucks in the past and I have a steady job now and would definitely do it again in the future. From the article you said that the norml FOUNDATION ran this ad? The difference there is that donations are tax deductible correct? If so this is about the best way I can imagine to spend my donation money so I may be getting myself a sweet norml ashtray here in the near future ;).

  10. #8

    the reasons these arrests are occurring has much more to do with racism and easy arrest stats in a corrupt city.


    there’s lots of good info from our side all around.

    the problem is the fear factor. many people have been strongly conditioned to demonize loiterers, commies, terrorists and pot smokin hippies.

  11. Notice there are more brown faces than white and light brown. Subtle hints as to the majority of people that were actually arrested.

  12. @Yoni #8: No, these people should not be going to jail. Marijuana has been decriminalized in New York for decades, but in the last 10-15 years the police have seen fit to ignore the intent of that law and arrest for minor marijuana possession using whatever means possible. This is a grave miscarriage of justice and a blatant abuse of police power.

    When you add the extreme racial and income disparities in the victims of these arrests, the situation is clearly far out of control.

  13. I don’t think this billboard sends the right message about legalization- especially to those who are against it. yes, people are being arrested because it is illegal but i don’t believe the number of people being arrested is a good argument for legalization… The messages should always be strong and well supported by the things that are important to the general public as a whole.

  14. @mtlasagna #11
    From #9
    I’m not saying the information isn’t there, as we all know the studies and research done on the subject are endless, however, I think what we need to do is to get the information into more of the public eye. There’s alot of people still ignorant to the benefits of marijuana, and a lot of stupidity towards the belief of false facts and not having the open mindedness to research it themselves. I still strongly believe that the first step is in education, and as more and more of the public see that what’s going on is wrong, then we’re making some real serious progress (Not that we aren’t already, of course) I think this ad is a bit premature, and while it’s a great ad, it’s main demographic is towards those who already view marijuana in a positive light, as well as minorities who know what it’s like to be discriminated against. I hope NORML either changes it, or if there’s not enough time, work on something better for the next time. (But by all means, keep this one archived for when we get more supporters)

  15. Good job NORML Foundation. Nice to see the ads are continuing.

    Julie #14, go with the flow girl. We’re making incredible progress, although some days it doesn’t appear that way. As far as the “general public” goes, they are indeed Brain Washed, that’s why this hideous drug war continues. What’s not convincing about pot arrests being up by 4,600% since 1992?

  16. Little ads like this go a long way in getting people to think about the harmful laws enacted against it’s people. Great job NORML!

  17. An ad showing facts about safer, and what is considered more polite and socially acceptable ways to intake cannabis such as “cannabis food” and “cannabis vapor” would help change more minds than arrest data. *Yes, smoked cannabis can be safe too, but many are too prejudiced against smoking and need to know about the other methods.* An ad should help change image of who and what is really being prohibited to be able to change minds.

    I also think ads should target senior citizens and those whom will be senior citizens soon. I agree with other commentators that the arrest data only works on people already opposed to prohibition.

    Also, on TV debates I’ve often heard, “people can already get marijuana” . This is not true, even in NYC you have no guarantee that the cannabis purchased is organic for instance. Consumers should have a right to safely access organic medical quality cannabis. Also the ability to be guaranteed you are accessing a very specific strain for your particular needs is vital, someone whom needs Sativa may have no use for an Indica and vice versa.

  18. the vampire cops are very powerful at every level of the drug war. they have a deep seated anger and fear of dope smokin hippies who are demonized and an easy bust.

    the rivers of drug money flowing to the cops are irresistible and have sent the police agencies around the bend into very high levels of greed and blood lust.

    the cops will never listen to reason.

  19. I agree with the above comments that this ad isn’t as convincing as the first. There is so much more to address in addition to the number of arrests. How about a little info on the government spending that accompanies those arrests or the damages done to families and society when good people are jailed for a harmless act?

  20. I like the new ad. Just remembered this – I saw a picture of a NORML ad attached to a Doritos display. Anyone know if this was a gag, or if it was genuine? Also, which store was it? I wanna send a thank you card to the manager.

  21. As a current NYC Police Officer I commend your ad. Do know that we do not make the laws we only enforce and sometimes it is not under our discretion. I do not speak for all but for myself. Be safe and happy tokin’

  22. The felonization of minorities is paramount in achieving national security for true American’s. The white people who built this country into what it is and continues to evolve into. We have an obligation to protect our heritage from the minority hoards. Jail ’em all.

  23. Its great to see that norml is doing adds, as this seems to be the only way to gain most americans attention. However, as some others have said, the arrest statistics are probably not the best argument for legalization: Many uneducated hard-heads will just think great more drug users of the street; a add that educates and encourages people to get the real facts on marijuana would be much better. I thought it was still very good though, and the more black and hispanic faces may help encourage them to take a stand. I would have really liked to see at the end of the add something like “Could you or a loved one be next” for emotional appeal…

  24. PUT UP the total to date forget this +40K number, +400K in NYC. 40 MILLION to date in USA. And then times that by $7500 per arrest. 46K is not going to shake up anyone.

    GO FOR IT!

  25. Have to agree with a comment I heard about PETA’s garbage tactics though … only the shock and awe with a splash of audacity gets the attention. This one is somewhat lacking as an attention getter in comparison.

    As cynical as most who pass by there daily are, I dont think this one has enough impact potential to spur useful conversation. Nor does it convey a sense of severity with the numbers being fractional to other issues that NY faces. But that’s not all there is now is it?

    All in all, it is much preferred to PETA’s approach as it doesn’t make NORML seem like a bunch of fringe lunatics. I can hope that constantly seeing a large number of brown faces mixed in with a giant cannabis leaf played over and over will leave its mark.

    Kudos again for retaining this ad placement. Even 5 years ago I couldn’t imagine it being where it is.

    (Yes, I dont think using *peta’s* model is a good idea. Just giving relevance to some feedback while trying to ensure to include it’s full context.)

Leave a Reply