New York Mayor Featured in Pro-Marijuana Ad 

New York Mayor Featured in Pro-Marijuana Ad 
Posted by FoM on April 09, 2002 at 18:38:47 PT
By Christian Wiessner 
Source: Reuters
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg found himself the poster boy for an ad campaign to decriminalize marijuana in a full-page spread in Tuesday's New York Times, and he's not thrilled about it. The advertisement is part of pro-marijuana group The NORML Foundation's $500,000 campaign that will feature Bloomberg, who was quoted in a 2001 magazine article as saying he had smoked marijuana and liked it. The group said this is the largest ever ad campaign calling for the reform of marijuana laws. 
"You bet I did, and I enjoyed it," Bloomberg said in an April 16, 2001, New York magazine article, before he was elected mayor, in response to the question if he had ever smoked marijuana. The newspaper ad featured the quote in a bubble above the mayor's head with a tag line below, "It's NORML to Smoke Pot." The text of the ad said NORML applauds Bloomberg's candor, and lumped him in with former President Bill Clinton, New York Gov. George Pataki and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as another public official who it says has admitted he smoked pot. "Millions of people smoke marijuana today," said NORML Executive Director Keith Stroup, a lawyer who says he has been smoking pot for 30 years, at a midtown news conference on Tuesday. "They come from all walks of life, and that includes your own mayor." LAWS WILL BE ENFORCEDNORML, sister organization to the Washington-based National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said the ad campaign will also include transit system billboards, telephone kiosk billboards and radio. "I'm not thrilled," said Bloomberg at a City Hall news conference on Monday when asked about his depiction in the campaign, adding that First Amendment laws probably would prevent him from stopping the ads. He said all city laws on marijuana would continue to be enforced. City officials were not immediately available to comment on Tuesday. "We are not here today to bury Caesar, we are here to praise him," NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said at Tuesday's news conference, adding that Bloomberg's remarks were atypical for a political figure. "We're not trying to hurt the mayor in anyway," Stroup added. "We did not out the mayor. All of these people we have mentioned (in the ad) outed themselves." In response to a question of whether it was ethical to use Bloomberg's picture in the ads, Stroup said, "I would turn that question around to say 'Is it ethical to talk in a friendly way about your own marijuana smoking while at the same time arresting 50,000 other New Yorkers?"' NORML says that in 2000, there were 52,000 arrests for minor marijuana violations, compared with 2,000 in 1992. Source: ReutersAuthor: Christian Wiessner Published: April 9, 2002Copyright: 2002 ReutersRelated Articles & Web Sites:NORML's Ad - Pictures & Articles Potshot at Mayor - NYDN Puts Face To Pro-Marijuana Campaign's Quote Used in Pro-Marijuana Ad
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on April 10, 2002 at 13:24:32 PT
Two CNN Transcripts about NORML's Ads.
WOODRUFF: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is known for various traits. It's pretty much agreed, he's driven, he's intensely competitive, and he speaks his mind. Well, it is that last trait that has gotten him into a bit of a pickle. It is a full-page ad in Tuesday's "New York Times" from a group that backs legalizing marijuana.
It has a quote from Mayor Bloomberg, when asked during his election campaign last year whether he had ever smoked pot. "You bet I did and I enjoyed it." Well, clearly, he enjoyed "it" more than the newfound publicity, saying today that he is "not thrilled" about the ads.
Joining me now from Houston, Asa Hutchinson. He's director of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. And joining me here in New York, Linda Stasi. She's a columnist for "The New York Post."
To be fair, both of you, I want to point out, the mayor also said today that he supports full enforcement of the laws against the illegal use of drugs.
But having said that, Asa Hutchinson, director of the DEA, the mayor is not the first public official to acknowledge having experimented or used marijuana. Is what Normal is doing here in running this ad really so bad? 
ASA HUTCHINSON, DEA DIRECTOR: Well, anytime you're misrepresenting someone's policy statement, it's horrendous. And in this case, you have Normal indicating that the mayor, in essence, supports the legalization of marijuana, that he does not believe it's problem to be a violation of the law.
And in fact, the mayor said today very clearly that he believes we should not legalize marijuana, we should enforce the laws. And he intends to do that in New York City. So what is troubling again is the misrepresentation of the mayor's policy positions. 
WOODRUFF: Linda Stasi, is this such a misrepresentation? 
LINDA STASI, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK POST": Well, I think he was very open and honest. And I would rather have somebody who's telling the truth, rather than having someone who's lying about it. But I think that it's interesting that he also said I'm not going to interfere with the First Amendment rights, as opposed to the mayor before, who had all those ads taken down from the subways. 
WOODRUFF: But what about director Hutchinson's point that the mayor's words are being used out of context? They're misleading anyway.
STASI: Well, they're certainly being used out of context. And he -- but I think he's handling it very graciously, as opposed to attacking. I mean, he's not lying. He did smoke pot. He came from the 60s, I mean, you know, the whole generational thing. And it's being used out of context, but he's not going crazy about it. And it'll go away. 
WOODRUFF: Asa Hutchinson, how much more use today is there of marijuana in the United States? Or is there? Has it gone down? 
HUTCHINSON: Well, the fact is that over the last 15 years, overall drug usage has decreased by 50 percent. Now since about 1992, it's been flatlined in terms of drug usage. And a lot of that's because teenagers have minimized the risk associated with it.
So these types of statements, even though they're understandable, because they're a candidate. It's important that people in public high positions like this, if they have had marijuana use in the past, that they express regret on it, that they do not minimize the impact of that, that it was a mistake.
And that's what I think the public should hear from these -- not just candidates, but public officials. His public policy is correct. We'd like to have a stronger statement, of course, when he was candidate. 
WOODRUFF: Well, and Linda Stasi today though, this ad, should Normal be runnin these ads? 
STASI: I think he made the statement. They're running with it. He's been gracious about it. They shouldn't do it. No, they shouldn't do it. But the fact that he's being gracious about it and saying that all right, I did it. This is the First Amendment right. They have the right to do this, I think will make it disappear, as opposed to bringing it to court and making a big deal. It's stupid and it's nasty. And they shouldn't have done it, but they did. 
WOODRUFF: Asa Hutchinson, as I understand it, Normal's goal is to to roll back New York City's policy of arresting and jailing anybody caught smoking marijuana in public. Is this policy the right one for the city to have? 
HUTCHINSON: Well, the mayor said it very well, that anytime you don't enforce the law, you build contempt for the law. And so, you know, that's a legislative decision, that it's a violation of the law. The mayor's job is to enforce it. And he said that he would.
I think it's certainly the right policy that minimizes drug use of a very harmful drug. And I think it sends the right signal for our young people that it's not just harmful, but it is also illegal and can bring consequences. 
WOODRUFF: The right policy, Linda Stasi? 
STASI: Well, I think that when you arrest 33,000 people in one year for marijuana smoking, you're tying up the courts. And I think it's not the right policy. I mean, we're talking about people who are not selling drugs. They're not dealing drugs. I mean, I don't smoke pot, but I just think that tying up the courts and the police with 33,000 arrests is over the line. 
WOODRUFF: What about that point, Asa Hutchinson? 
HUTCHINSON: Well Judy, those really decisions and discretionary decisions are made by law enforcement. So I certainly respect the mayor and the previous mayor for decisions they've made in New York City. The D.A.'s responsibility is to go after the trafficking organizations. We don't address the users. That's up to local law enforcement. And they certainly have some discretion as to how they approach each of those. 
WOODRUFF: All right, we're going to have to leave it there. Asa Hutchinson is director of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. Linda Stasi is a columnist for "The New York Post". I have a feeling we're going to hear a lot more about this one. Thank you both.
STASI: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.
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