Bloomberg wants to loosen pot penalties, not eliminate them

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The offerings for sale at a California dispensary. (Dank Depot via Flickr)
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Mayor Michael Bloomberg might be lessening the penalties of marijuana possession in New York City, but don't get the wrong idea: he wants it to remain illegal. 

"I personally am not in favor of legalizing marijuana or any other drugs," he said today, during his Friday morning radio show. "I think it's a dangerous thing."

Yesterday, during his twelfth and final State of the City address at Barclays Center, the mayor announced that individuals found in possession of small amounts of weed would no longer be kept in jail overnight.

Bloomberg also used the speech to reiterate his support for Governor Andrew Cuomo's stalled effort to decriminalize the public possession of small amounts of weed.

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"The reality is that for small amounts of marijuana, there's an awful lot of kids that have it and you're just clogging the jails, you're clogging the courts, you're clogging the police schedules," said Bloomberg today.

"But you're condoning the consumption of it," countered his co-host, John Gambling.

"I don't know condoning, but certainly not penalizing too much, that is true," conceded the mayor. "Look, I have thought long and hard about it. I am 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."

Before Bloomberg was elected mayor, he admitted to having smoked weed himself.

"You bet I did," he said. "And I enjoyed it."

That remark caught the attention of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), which subsequently used his remarks in an ad calling for legalization.

"I'm not thrilled they are using my name," said Bloomberg, at the time.