NORML outs NYC mayor as pothead
NEW YORK CITY-On April 9, readers of the New York Times found Mayor Mike Bloomberg's beady eyes staring out from page A13. "You bet I did, and I enjoyed it." read a comic-strip balloon coming out of the billionaire politician's mouth, over the tag line, it's NORML to Smoke Pot." "POT POSTER BOY" blared the Daily News' front-page headline.
The $105,000 full-page ad-based on a quote Bloomberg gave New York magazine last year-is part of a campaign by NORMI to get the mayor to relax his predecessor's policies on arresting pot smokers. Under the authoritarian rule of Rudy Giuliani, arrests for smoking marijuana in public reached 52,000 in 2000, 15% of all arrests in the city that year. Since Bloomberg took office in Janu ary, pot arrests have remained high, with 5,800 pot-smoking busts constituting over 13% of all arrests in the first two months of this year, according to state criminal-justice figures obtained by the Manjua na Reform Party. Over 80% of the people arrested are black or Latino, and most are young men.
Were not trying to embarrass the mayor,~ NORML director Keith Stroup told a press conference here Apnl 9. Instead, NORML wants Bloomberg to have police issue summonses to pot-smokers, much
as they would to people carrying open cans of beer. (Though possession of man juana is decnminalized in New York State, smoking in public is a misdemeanor.) NORMI Foundation head Allen St. Pierre praised the mayor for being `~candid" and Thonest" in confessing his pot use.
Given the choice between looking like a hypocrite or appearing "soft on drugs," will Bloomberg reconsider the pot-bust policy? "I think we should enforce the laws as they are, and the Police Department will do so vigorous ly,' he told the press at City Hall on April 8. The mayor's press secretary did not return phone calls from HIGH TIMES.
A Zogby poll in late March commissioned by NORML found that the New Yorkers sampled opposed arresting "nonviolent marijuana smokers" by a 56%39% margin. Opposition was strongest in Manhattan and Queens and among working women and people under 30. Support for pot busts was strongest among Republicans, housewives and residents of Staten Island, the city's smallest, whitest, and most politically conservative borough. -Steven Wishnia
`You bet I did. And I enjoyed it'
At Last, an Honest litician.
It's NORML to Smoke Pot.
National Orgart~ution for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Foundation