By Steve Elliott
A controversy has erupted in Portland, Maine, after the Marijuana Policy Project bought $2,500 worth ads on buses and bus shelters in support of Question 1, a measure that would legalize the recreational use of cannabis in the city. The advertising campaign, which promotes marijuana as safer than alcohol, has angered anti-drug crusaders.
"I prefer marijuana over alcohol because it doesn't make me rowdy or reckless," one of the captions reads, reports David Knowles at the NY Daily News. "Why should I be punished?"
"It's highly inappropriate to be promoting a pro marijuana message in a place that has a large audience of people under the age of 21," complained Kate Perkins, a spokesperson for drug prevention group 21 Reasons, reports Chris Rose at WCSH News.
The group claims the ads go beyond promoting Question 1, and instead promote the use of marijuana itself. But Portland's Metro bus authority said the ads fall within free-speech guidelines for an election campaign. Metro prohibits ads for alcohol and tobacco.
"If we do not ban such promotions, we will see a significant increase in marijuana marketing and promotion," 21 Reasons claimed in a news release. Project Manager Jo Morrissey claimed that further commercial advertising "will further erode youth's perception of risk and harm."