An advertisement that said marijuana was less harmful than alcohol was pulled off a jumbotron outside the NASCAR Brickyard 400 in Indiana on Friday.
The Marijuana Policy Project said in a news release that Grazie Media, the company that owns the huge billboard at the entrance to the raceway, had approved the content of the ad and accepted payment for it. The ad was supposed to air over the weekend.
“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,” Vanessa Wojtala, director of programming at Grazie Media, said Friday.
The Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. had complained that the ad promoted drug abuse. Though 19 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of marijuana, Indiana has not.
"This campaign falsely claims marijuana is safer than alcohol and promotes illicit drug use in a state where marijuana is illegal," said Calvina Fay, executive director of Drug Free America Foundation and Save Our Society From Drugs. "It is irresponsible marketing and I commend Grazie Media for their swift action towards the removal of this ad."
The ad noted that smoked marijuana contained no calories, didn't result in hangovers or overdoses, and wasn't linked to violent behavior. The ad concluded, "Marijuana: less harmful than alcohol and time to treat it that way."
"We find it odd that this company is willing to run ads at an alcohol-fueled event, yet unwilling to run an ad that simply highlights the ways in which marijuana is less harmful than alcohol," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. "This is the exact type of hypocrisy that motivated us to run this ad. We wanted to make people think about the absurdity of laws that allow adults to use alcohol but punish them for making the safer choice to use marijuana instead, if that is what they prefer.
"We are absolutely baffled by the claim that marijuana is not safer than alcohol, which accompanied the announcement of the ad being pulled," Tvert said. "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."