By Jacob Sullum
The Drug Policy Alliance reports that an ad (PDF) criticizing pot busts in New York City, scheduled to appear on a billboard along the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, was canceled due to concerns about upsetting Mayor Michael Bloomberg. According to Titan 360, the company that manages the billboard, the landlord rejected the ad because of "political circumstances from the Mayor's office." Here is what the ad says:
Nearly half of all New Yorkers have tried marijuana—including Mayor Bloomberg. We can't arrest them all, but Bloomberg is trying.
Marijuana arrests last year: 50,000.
Cost to taxpayers: nearly $100 million.
"Driving along the BQE," says DPA's Gabriel Sayegh, "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." The city's little-noticed crackdown on pot smokers, which began under Rudy Giuliani, has escalated under Bloomberg. "Despite the mayor's 'moderate' and 'independent' reputation," notes a DPA press release, "Bloomberg has overseen more low-level marijuana arrests than any other elected official in New York history. There have been more arrests under Bloomberg than under Mayors Dinkins, Koch and Giuliani combined." The busts, largely an outgrowth of the NYPD's "stop and frisk" program, overwhelmingly involve blacks and Latinos, who are often tricked into removing marijuana from their pockets, thereby converting a citable offense (possession of less than an ounce) into an arrestable misdemeanor (having marijuana "in public view").