INDIANAPOLIS, IN — Fans attending this weekend’s NASCAR Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis won’t be greeted with a giant video ad promoting a “Marijuana is Safer” campaign by the Marijuana Policy Project after the company who owns the billboard pulled the ad Friday.
After anti-drug crusaders from the Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. found out about the advertisement, which suggests marijuana as a safer alternative to beer and directs viewers to an educational page with information about marijuana, they complained to the owners of the giant video board, Graize Media, who pulled the ad.
“Grazie Media does not, in any way, shape or form, support the use of marijuana nor the promotion of illegal drugs at a family event,” Graize Media said in a statement.
“This campaign falsely claims marijuana is safer than alcohol and promotes illicit drug use in a state where marijuana is illegal,” Calvina Fay, executive director of Drug Free America Foundation and Save Our Society From Drugs, said in a statement. “It is irresponsible marketing and I commend Grazie Media for their swift action towards the removal of this ad.”
Advocates say the ad was not promoting illegal drugs, it was promoting the legalization of marijuana as a safer alternative to alcohol, pointing out that there is no shortage of alcohol advertising at the NASCAR event.
“We are absolutely baffled by the claim that marijuana is not safer than alcohol, which accompanied the announcement of the ad being pulled,” Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, who paid for the ad spots.
“If Save Our Society From Drugs truly wishes to ‘save our society from drugs,’ why on earth would they want to prevent people from learning that alcohol use is far more toxic and likely to contribute to violent behavior than marijuana? It is clear this organization is more concerned about maintaining marijuana prohibition than it is about maintaining public health and safety. We are sorry to see Grazie Media abandon its agreement with a client when confronted by such reefer madness.”
“Our goal was to make this weekend’s event as educational as it will be enjoyable,” Tvert said. “We simply want those adults who will be enjoying a beer or two at the race this weekend to think about the fact that marijuana is an objectively less harmful product.”
The video ad, which resembles a beer commercial, compares alcohol and marijuana, pointing out that marijuana doesn’t contain calories, cause hangovers, or promote reckless, violent behavior.
“If you’re an adult who enjoys a good beer,” says the ad, “there’s a similar product you might want to know about.”
The video ends with the tagline ”Less harmful than alcohol, and time to treat it that way,” and provides a link to MarijuanaIsSafer.org, which provides an introduction to marijuana, as well as information on marijuana’s impact on the consumer and on the community.
“We think it’s critical that the public recognize that marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol,” Tvert, the co-author of the book Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?, said Thursday. “We wanted to reach out to an audience that clearly appreciates that adults should be able to use beer and alcohol responsibly. They should also be able to use marijuana responsibly – since it’s less harmful.”
The ad is the latest installment of MPP’s “Marijuana is Safer” campaign, which helped lead Colorado’s Amendment 64 to victory last November, legalizing the possession, use and retail sales of marijuana for adults 21 or older.
The ad was scheduled to appear 72 times over the three day weekend, where up to 600,000 fans are expected to attend the race.
You can watch the ad below.
MPP’s Pro-Marijuana Legalization Billboard Pulled from NASCAR Event was written by Scott Gacek and appears in full on The Daily Chronic. ©2013
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