Ironically, professional athletes from the only two states in the nation, Washington and Colorado, where marijuana is legal for recreational use, went head-to-head in New Jersey at Super Bowl XLVIII. In preparation for the game, groups advocating for legalization, as well as those against it, launched billboard campaigns around the New York-New Jersey area, according to the Seattle Post Intelligencer.
Billboards, with pro-marijuana messages, purchased by the Marijuana Policy Project, appeared along New Jersey highways leading to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. One billboard read: “MARIJUANA: Safer than alcohol…and football” or “As many people were arrested for marijuana in 2012 (749,824) as have attended the past 10 Super Bowls combined (751,203)”.
Morgan Fox, the Marijuana Policy Project spokesman, said the marketing campaign highlighted the hypocrisy associated with the NFL and its beer sponsors. “The same organization has no problem actively advertising a much more dangerous substance, particularly in a relatively family environment,” Fox said.
The Marijuana Policy Project’s billboard competition was Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana). Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, chairman of SAM, said in a news release, “Marijuana use saps motivation, perseverance, and determination – the opposite of what it takes to win the Super Bowl. It is not a safe drug, especially for kids, and we need to reiterate the message to coaches, parents, players, and teens alike that it has no place in football.”