Marijuana Billboards Sprout Up Around Super Bowl

The ads aim to tackle hypocritical NFL policies.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Daniel Padavona

The two states that legalized marijuana this year are also the two states with teams headed to the Super Bowl this Sunday. (Insert your double entendre-derived jokes here.) Just in time for the national media to begin buzzing around New York's Metlife Stadium where the big game will kick off, a series of marijuana-related billboards have popped up on nearby freeways, aimed at tackling the “hypocritical” policy of the National Football League (NFL).

While Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL gave an unofficial endorsement for pot in football this week, saying "I don't know what's going to develop as far as the next opportunity for medicine to evolve, either deal with pain or help deal with injuries, but we will try to continually support the evolution of medicine," NFL players are not officially allowed to use pot, even for medical purposes. But they're encouraged to drink. 

The billboards were purchased by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the reform organization that played a significant role in getting marijuana legalized in Colorado and Washington. Several will appear along freeways near the stadium.

“Marijuana is less toxic, less addictive, and less harmful to the body than alcohol,” said MPP spokesperson Mason Tvert. “Why would the NFL want to steer its players toward drinking and away from making the safer choice to use marijuana instead? If it is okay for athletes to douse each other with champagne in front of the cameras, it should be okay for them to use marijuana privately in their homes.”

The new digital billboards are scheduled to begin running at 12:01am ET on Friday through midnight following the Super Bowl. While they won't necessarily be visable from the stadium, they will be hard to miss on the way to and from it. 

One of the billboards resembles a scoreboard and shows that the number of marijuana arrests in the U.S. each year is nearly equal to the total attendance of the last 10 Super Bowls combined. There were 749,824 arrests for marijuana-related offenses in 2012, according to the FBI, and 751,203 total attendees at Super Bowls XXXVIII through XLVII, according to SportingCharts.com.


Two more billboards directly challenge NFL policies regarding alcohol vs. marijuana, aimed at both Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks fans:


And another two point out the fact that football itself is actually more dangerous than using marijuana:


While most of the billboards target the NFL’s internal policies prohibiting marijuana use, two tackle the anti-pot billboard Patrick Kennedy's Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) issued this week, pictured below. 

“If Mr. Kennedy is concerned about public health and safety, and he knows that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, why does he prefer adults drink?” Tvert said. “Our society recognizes that adults should have the right to consume alcohol responsibly. Prohibiting those same adults from using a less harmful substance is not a very smart approach to marijuana.”

Here are the MPP's responses to the SAM billboard:

The spoof ad will be located on I-495 leading to the Lincoln Tunnel west of Routes 1 and 9 (billboard is facing east). 

“Taking a big hit of marijuana poses less potential harm than taking a big hit from an NFL linebacker or a big shot of tequila,” Tvert said. “Whether it's a concussion or a hangover, it's a sign that you've done more harm to your brain than marijuana could ever do.”

April M. Short is a yoga teacher and writer who previously worked as AlterNet's drugs and health editor. She currently edits part-time for AlterNet, and freelances for a number of publications nationwide.

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