Marijuana Advocacy Group Uses New York City Mayor’s Remark Praising Drug in Full-Page Newspaper Ad
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Foundation (NORML) today ran a full-page New York Times ad promoting the legalization of marijuana and featuring a picture of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R), who admitted during last year's campaign that he had at one time smoked marijuana. The ad features a picture of Bloomberg with the quotation, "You bet I did. And I enjoyed it." The ad praises Bloomberg for his candor in admitting he smoked the drug and says that smoking marijuana is relatively normal, noting that 33% of American adults admit to having smoked the drug at some time, likening it to drinking alcohol. The ad then asks why, if smoking marijuana is so widespread, people are being arrested for it. According to the ad, more than 50,000 people are arrested in New York City each year for smoking the drug, yet a March 2002 Zogby Poll showed that most New Yorkers are against such sanctions. The ad concludes that there is "an alternative": legalizing marijuana. The ad then encourages viewers to visit the group's Web site and register to send Bloomberg an email encouraging him to support marijuana reform (NORML ad, 4/8). Today's ad is the beginning of a new campaign that will target city officials in an attempt to get them to stop arresting and prosecuting people for smoking marijuana, the Times reports. The ad featuring Bloomberg will be posted in bus shelters and transit signs and the group will also run radio ads (Steinhauer, New York Times, 4/9). Bloomberg said he is unhappy with the use of his image in the ads but does not see how he can change them. "I suppose there's that First Amendment that gets in the way of me stopping it," he said, adding, "I think we should enforce the laws as they are in the police department. We'll do so vigorously" (Kowal, Newsday, 4/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.