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Marijuana Billboard

06 September, 2013


Several weeks ago, in the beginning of this blog, I wrote about a NASCAR billboard that never happened. It was to be the first pro-Marijuana billboard at a major sporting event. NOW, it looks like it is happening, for real. On Wednesday, the day before the Denver Broncos kickoff against the reigning Super Bowl Champions the Baltimore Ravens, it went up. And boy, was it big. Forty-eight feet wide, in fact. Right outside the Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium, it urges the NFL to “Stop Driving Players To Drink” and asks the league to consider a “safer choice is now legal (here).”

According to Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (the same organization responsible for the NASCAR billboard), he hopes NFL commissioner Roger Goodell explains why the league promotes player’s (and fans) use of alcohol but won’t admit that there is a safer choice out there. It exists in Colorado and Washington State (the two states that recently legalized Marijuana for recreational use).

Mr. Tvert’s statement includes: “For years, the NFL has been punishing players for using Marijuana despite the fact that it is far less harmful than alcohol, a substance highly embraced by the league. The league would never punish a player for simply having a couple of beers, so why does it penalize them for using a substance that is less toxic, less addictive, and less likely to contribute to violence. The NFL’s harsh Marijuana penalties do nothing to promote the health and safety of the players. If anything, they put players in danger by steering them toward using alcohol and away from making the safer choice to use Marijuana instead. We hope Commissioner Goodell will explain why the NFL is willing to promote the use of alcohol among it’s players and fans, but unwilling to recognize that a safer alternative is now legal here.”

Greg Aiello, NFL spokesman, said earlier this year that legalization in Colorado and Washington State would have no effect on the league’s stance on the drug. His words were, “The NFL’s policy is collectively bargained and will continue to apply in the same manner it has for decades. Marijuana remains prohibited under the NFL substance abuse program.”

The billboard’s timing comes close on the heels of a statement that the NFLPA (National Football League Player’s Association) announced a partnership with the technology firm Uber to develop a smartphone app that, after September, will allow NFL players to call a “safe, discrete” driver as an effort by the association to cut down on the number of DUI offenses. The app will be available in 20 NFL cities and according to DeMaurice Smith (NFLPA Executive Director) is a way to treat “a public health and safety and responsibility challenge.”

So there you have it. A billboard to make us question and an app with the answer. However, it seems to me that neither is going to change anything. A billboard without action behind it is useless. And an app that gets you a free ride, changes nothing.

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