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New York Censors Pot Ads

Reported by JontySkrufff on May 8, 2010

Civil libertarians who tried to highlight the fact that New York arrests more cannabis smokers than any city in the world, accused Mayor Bloomberg of censorship this week, after a billboard company rejected it ‘because of “political circumstances from the Mayor’s office.’

“Driving along the BQE (Brooklyn Queens Expressway) you can see ads for alcohol, strip clubs and casinos, but an ad that talks about the Mayor’s record on marijuana arrests in New York is rejected,” said Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) spokesperson Gabriel Sayegh in a statement. “Most New Yorkers don’t know that Mayor Bloomberg’s police arrested close to 50,000 people for marijuana possession last year at a price tag of nearly 100 million dollars. This information should not be censored.”

The offending advertisement would have displayed the similar statistics plus the strap line  “nearly half of all New Yorkers have tried marijuana—including Mayor Bloomberg. We can’t arrest them all but Bloomberg is trying.”

The DPA noted the irony that cannabis has been technically decriminalised for many years in New York, most people are busted when cops order then to ‘turn out their pockets’. The pot is then ‘open to public view" and hence still illegal. People unfortunate enough to be busted usually spend two or three days locked up in giant holding cells, even if caught with tiny amounts.

The reputed brutality of America’s prison system took a knock from celebrity murderer Michael Alig, however, this week who speaking to Interview magazine last week said that ‘the whole image of people being raped and extorted in prison might have been true in the ’70s and ’80s, but it isn’t like that anymore’.

Adding that most fellow prisoners are ‘nice and helpful’ the former Club Kid (who could be released this year) said gang culture presented him with few threats personally.

“The people you’d think I’d have the biggest problems with are my closest allies. Like the Bloods and the skinheads—all the people you’d think would hate me,” he told Christopher Bollen. 

“I think they see me as a kindred spirit. Especially the Bloods,” he continued, “They are leaders of this kind of cultish, anarchic, underground, subversive movement. They see me as the same kind of thing,” he said. (Michael Alig in Interview magazine)

Drug Policy Alliance: ‘Despite the mayor's "moderate" and "independent" reputation, Bloomberg has overseen more low-level marijuana arrests than any other elected official in New York history . . .’

Jonty Skrufff ( Follow Jonty on Twitter