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Melissa Mark-Viverito supports marijuana legalization

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is joined by fellow council members during a news conference at City Hall on Tuesday, April 29, 2014. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said Thursday that she supports the legalization of marijuana, splitting from ally Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The East Harlem Democrat also acknowledged that she has smoked marijuana in the past.

"Obviously, there's been a lot of conversation nationally. There's been a lot of referendums that have happened and states are speaking," Mark-Viverito said at an unrelated City Hall news conference.

"It's just something that is appropriate at this time," she added of legalization.

Colorado and Washington have legalized the drug for recreational use.

De Blasio, at a news conference Monday announcing the NYPD's policy shift, had pointed to "real challenges" the states have had with implementation.

"I don't think anyone should rush to judgment until we see the real experience, over years, in those states," he said. "So, I am not comfortable with notion of legalization."

Police Commissioner William Bratton is firmly opposed.

"I am not in favor of the legalization of marijuana under any circumstance," he said, adding that he doesn't anticipate ever supporting the notion.

De Blasio and Bratton said that beginning Wednesday, police officers will have the discretion to issue summonses to people found with up to 25 grams of marijuana in lieu of arresting them.

Mark-Viverito called the policy a "step forward," but said she has concerns about how it will be implemented by police officers at the "street level."

She said the process of legalizing marijuana must be done in a thoughtful manner, but did mention any immediate legislative action that she would take or support at the local or state level.

Asked about her personal experiences with marijuana, she said, "If you're asking whether if I have smoked marijuana, yes."

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