Dueling Pot Billboards at The Stoner Bowl

When teams from the two states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use clash at Sunday’s Super Bowl, so will activists on both sides of the debate about pot prohibition. The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is sponsoring five billboards near MetLife MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where the Denver Broncos will face the Seattle Seahawks. The anti-pot group Project SAM is responding with an ad that “will be placed on digital and vinyl billboards throughout the New York-New Jersey area.”

Four of MPP’s ads are variations on the marijuana-is-safer theme that played a conspicuous role in Colorado’s legalization campaign and was recently echoed by President Obama. Two ads criticize the National Football League’s anti-pot policy, showing generic players asking, “Why does the league punish us for making the safer choice?” The other two note that marijuana is safer than football as well as alcohol. The fifth MPP ad shows a tally of attendance at the last 10 Super Bowls next to a tally of marijuana arrests in 2012 (about 750,000 in both cases).

How does Project SAM respond? It can’t very well deny that marijuana is safer than alcohol, since its chairman admitted as much on national television last week. Nor can it deny that pot prohibition generates hundreds of thousands of arrests each year, the vast majority for simple possession. Here is what the group came up with instead:

That’s right: Project SAM—which stands, believe it or not, for Smart Approaches to Marijuana—is warning Americans about amotivational syndrome. In 2014. The theme reflected in this billboard was hoary when it was first applied to marijuana in the 1960s, having figured prominently in anti-cigarette propaganda two decades before the federal ban on marijuana, which before it was portrayed as a soporific that renders people lethargic and unambitious was feared as a “killer drug” that made them aggressive and irrationally violent.

– Read the entire at Forbes.

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