Controversy erupts over bus billboards promoting marijuana as safer than alcohol
Published on 10/3/13
The Marijuana Policy Project purchased $2,500 of bus ads in Portland, Maine, to support the city's ballot measure that would legalize the recreational use of the drug for adults.
The fight to legalize marijuana is now being waged on the buses of Portland, Maine.
An advertising blitz promoting pot as “less harmful” than alcohol went up on buses and bus shelters in Maine’s largest city Wednesday, angering anti-drug crusaders.
"It's highly inappropriate to be promoting Pro Marijuana message in a place that has a large audience of people under the age of 21", Kate Perkins, a spokesperson for 21 Reasons, a drug prevention group, told WCSH News.
Voters will decide the fate of Question 1, an initiative that would legalize recreational pot use for adults in Portland, on Nov. 5, and the Marijuana Policy Project purchased $2,500 worth of ads to try and help pass the measure.
“It has a very, very good chance,” Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, told the Daily News.
The ads feature rather clean-cut looking individuals along with captions touting phrases used in other campaigns run by the group.
“I prefer marijuana over alcohol because it doesn’t make me rowdy or reckless,” one of the captions reads. “Why should I be punished?”
Despite complaints to METRO, Portland’s public bus service, the ads will remain up until Election Day. The agency said the ads amounted to political advertising, and therefore were in line with its guidelines.
Marijuana Policy Project
The Marijuana Policy Project contends that pot is demonstrably much safer than alcohol and should be made legal for recreational use.
“If we’re going to allow one type of political advertising, we have to allow it all,” METRO General Manager Gregory Jordan told the Portland Press Herald.
21 Reasons fears that the ads will further legitimize pot use among teens.
“If we do not ban such promotions, we will see a significant increase in marijuana marketing and promotion,” the group said in a press release.
The Marijuana Policy Project counters that their message is undeniably true and is not a call for anyone to smoke pot.
“These ads encourage people to support marijuana policy reform, not to use marijuana,” David Boyer, the Maine political director for the Maine Marijuana Policy project, told the Press Herald. “These ads simply highlight the fact that marijuana is objectively safer than alcohol, and that is a fact everyone should know.”