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NEW YORK (AP) -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg stares out from the full-page ad in The New York Times, a quote bubble emerging from his mouth. The quote: "You bet I did. And I enjoyed it."
The question: whether he had ever smoked marijuana.
Bloomberg's remark, made to a New York magazine reporter last year before he was elected mayor, has become the centerpiece of an advocacy group's advertising campaign urging New York City to stop arresting and jailing people for smoking marijuana.
The $500,000 campaign will feature bus shelter signs and telephone booth posters carrying the quote, the Washington-based National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws said Monday. It also includes radio spots and the Times ads, the first of which appeared in Tuesday's editions.
Bloomberg said Monday that the city would continue making such arrests, no matter what he may have said in the past.
"I'm not thrilled they're using my name," he said. "I suppose there's that First Amendment that gets in the way of me stopping it."
New York Mayor Featured in Pro-Marijuana Ad
Tue Apr 9, 3:16 PM ET
By Christian Wiessner
NEW YORK (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 (news - web sites) 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 ENFORCED
NORML, 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.
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