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Michael Bloomberg's Stop-and-Frisk Apology Smells Fishy

Michael Bloomberg: “I now see that we could and should have acted sooner, and acted faster, to cut the stops... I was wrong and I’m sorry." (image via AP)

When former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg says he's sorry for the stop-and-frisk policy that resulted thousands of arrests, most for marijuana possession, during his 12 years in office, I take it personally.

Not that I was stopped and frisked. But I was arrested for marijuana in 2013 and I was searched by NYPD. I blame that unneccesary arrest on Bloomberg. It was his police force that rampaged against pot, like cops did the previous eight years under Rudolph Giuliani.

I've told the story here before, but I will quickly explain that me and a friend were apprehended by NYPD in a parking garage next to Madison Square en route to a Phish show. We'd smoked a little in the car on the way to the garage and the police, who were apparently staking out the fourth floor of the building, sniffed us out. They suddenly surrounded the vehicle, searched us, found weed and paraphernalia, cuffed us and placed us in a paddy wagon. We were taken to the Manhattan South precinct where we sat in cold cells without jackets for nine hours, until we were released. Needless to say, we missed the show.

NYPD targeted Deadheads when the Grateful Dead played the Garden and Phish phans as well during their annual New Year's Eve run of concerts. We fell into the net, with a bunch of other disappointed ticket holders.

I complained to Phish's management about the NYPD shakedown. Phish skipped the Garden in 2014 and returned the next year with a new, friendlier mayor, Bill de Blasio, in City Hall.

More than 400,000 marijuana arrests were made in New York City during Bloomberg's tenure from 2002-2013. His NYPD picked up where Giuliani's left off, busting as many as 50,000 people a year. Most of those arrests were a result of stop and frisk... Bloomberg should apologize to all the New Yorkers who were arrested and jailed for marijuana possession during his dozen years in office. 

Bloomberg oversaw a policy that targeted black and Hispanic New Yorkers, mostly male, and which was determined to be unconstutitional in 2013. Bloomberg's administration appealed the court decision.

More than 400,000 marijuana arrests were made in New York City during Bloomberg's tenure from 2002-2013. His NYPD picked up where Giuliani's left off, busting as many as 50,000 people a year. Most of those arrests were a result of stop-and-frisk. When frisks were made and marijuana was found, once it was out of a person's pocket it was considered "in public view," which was an arrestable offense, until the state legislature amended the decriminalization law last June. 

Bloomberg should apologize to all the New Yorkers who were arrested and jailed for marijuana possession during his dozen years in office. That he did not do when he delivered his mea culpa at a black church in Brooklyn on November 17.

Now that it appears that Bloomberg will be running for the Democratic presdiential nomination in 2020, it's time to make amends. But few are buying Bloomberg's opportunistic apology. “I now see that we could and should have acted sooner, and acted faster, to cut the stops,” he said. "I wish we had and I’m sorry that we didn’t, but I can’t change history. However, today I want you to know that I realized back then that I was wrong and I’m sorry.”

De Blasio was quick to fire back, "This is LONG overdue and the timing is transparent and cynical. With all due respect to my predecessor, we’ve spent six years undoing the damage he created with this bankrupt policy. We ended stop and frisk AND drove down crime. Actions speak louder than words."

De Blasio went on:

On CNN, the mayor told Ana Cabrera: "People aren’t stupid. They can figure out if someone is honestly addressing an issue or whether they’re acting out of convenience... It seems awfully strange that it took until now.”

Rev. Al Sharpton surprisingly sided with Bloomberg, saying on MSNBC, "Despite his motives, I think it was good to happen."

Bloomberg is famously anti-pot, despite admitting in 2002 he had smoked marijuana in the past and "enjoyed it." 

In 2013, on his way out of office, Bloomberg scoffed at the idea of medical marijuana"Yeah, right, medical, come on," he told a radio interviewer. "There's no medical. This is one of the great hoaxes of all time."

He added: "The bottom line is, I'm told marijuana is much stronger today than it was 20 or 30 years ago… I'm opposed to legalizing marijuana. Number one, it's much more potent than when you and I were teenagers, or whatever. And number two, the drug dealers are gonna sell something, because they've got to feed their families, and if there's no money in marijuana, they'll start selling harder stuff. And that's not good."

In January, Bloomberg doubled down on his unpopular view“To go and encourage people - to make it easier for people to engage in a behavior that has a significant possibility of damaging people’s health - is just nonsensical. This mad, passionate rush to let everybody do things without any research just isn’t something we would do in any other way.”

Bloomberg's stop-and-frisk apology doesn't pass the smell test. Will he throw a bone to pot smokers too? 

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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.