Maria Inés Taracena
Let's talk about weed, mom and dad.
Have you noticed the Mother's Day-themed marijuana billboard on South Sixth Avenue, yet?
The Marijuana Policy Project-backed Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is one of two groups leading efforts to legalize recreational weed
in Arizona this year (the other one is Arizonans for Mindful Regulation
), launched the sign on Tuesday at 3640 S. 6th Ave., across the street from Southern Arizona Veterans Affairs.
The ad is meant to persuade younger voters into talking to their parents, grandparents and older adults about marijuana and the benefits of legalization, according to a CRMLA press release. There is another billboard like this up in Phoenix.
The ads, which are targeted at younger voters, feature a young woman sitting with her mother and ask: “Have you talked to your parents about marijuana?” The goal of the ads is to flip the script on marijuana education and encourage younger voters to start conversations about marijuana with their family members—especially older generations who have been led to believe marijuana is more harmful than it actually is.
The website that's pointed out on the ad, TalkItUpArizona.org, leads you to a page where you can send your parents (or any family member, really) a message explaining
why older voters' support for legalization is important.
“For decades, the federal government distributed anti-marijuana propaganda to parents and encouraged them to share it with their children,” said CRMLA Chairman J.P. Holyoak. “It’s time for younger folks to start sharing the facts about marijuana with their parents and other older relatives."
"Older voters tend to be less familiar with marijuana and, as a result, more concerned about making it legal for adults. Younger voters need to talk to their parents about marijuana and make sure they understand it is actually less harmful than alcohol. They are the voices of reason, and we want to help them make their voices heard.”
As of April, CRMLA says it has collected more than 200,000 signatures. The group's goal is closer to 230,000 of the 150,642 signatures it needs by July to make sure their initiative makes the ballot this November.
The anti-weed legalization group Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, which is co-chaired by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk,
says the ad mocks "serious conversations about drugs between parents and kids."
“There is nothing ‘playful’ about the serious conversations parents have with their children about the dangers of substance abuse,” said a statement from Seth Leibsohn, chair of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy. “It is wholly irresponsible to mock substance abuse—and the hard work done by community preventionists and parents to keep their children safe—as a joke. These billboards should be taken down immediately.”
ARDP points to Colorado, which has seen a 74 percent spike in teens using weed since the state legalized marijuana in 2012, according to an ARDP press release.
“It’s appalling that the pro-legalization side would use Mother’s Day as a hook to promote drug use,” Leibsohn's statement said. “A new effort in Pueblo, Colorado is seeking to opt out of marijuana commercialization because of what a local medical director called ‘a dramatic increase in newborns who test positive for marijuana along with an increase in teenage suicide attempts."