Drug Policy

Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Puts Up Pro-Legalization Billboard


First NORML put one up in Florida, now RegulateMarijuana.com has one for Colorado; perhaps billboards can win the war against marijuana prohibition? No, probably not without some help. Nevertheless, Raw Story has the scoop on a shiny new $5,000 billboard, prominently placed near Denver's Mile High Stadium.

The group's official name is the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and as Jacob Sullum has previously noted, it has thrown its support behind a ballot initiative to fully legalize marijuana in 2012. Colorado has had legalized medical marijuana since 2001, but that doesn't stop the state from staging the occasional SWAT raid on legal users just in case they're using slightly more weed than is allowed.

This organization's name kind of makes me twitch, if only because I have an aversion to overtly advocating for regulation. But regulation would of course be a damn sight better than illegality. And look! Look at the normal-looking lady! She's probably someone's mom or something! 

Take it away, Raw Story:

"That's what we want to talk to Coloradans right now," Betty Aldworth, advocacy director for the campaign, told Raw Story on Friday. "We're trying to educate them about why it is that marijuana is safer than alcohol. If you look at every objective study comparing the safety of the two, you'll see that marijuana is clearly safer than alcohol."

Not only is the billboard near Mile High Stadium, it's also right next to Mile High Liquors. The group said on its website that the location was optimal because it will force some drinkers to confront their bias toward marijuana users. It was also a good deal, too: the campaign told Raw Story that their sign only cost $5,000.

Their claims aren't just a clever pitch for the drug, either: Marijuana has in fact been shown to be less addictive than alcohol, and its more enthusiastic users tend to exhibit fewer adverse health effects than alcoholics. It is also impossible to overdose on marijuana, which its adherents see as an advantage over the relative ease of alcohol poisoning.

That's the message the campaign is trying to bring to Coloradans, and Aldworth explained that they've only just begun. "We're asking volunteers to talk to their neighbors, their family members — and particularly aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents, people in the next two generations up," she said. "Young people, for the most part, get it, they've seen their friends use marijuana and alcohol, and how they affect people. They understand… There is no logical reason to punish people for marijuana."

Young people definitely do support legalization at a much higher rate than senior citizens. And though the the Florida NORML campaign linked to above actually involved trying to change elderly minds about the devil weed, the children may be, in the cause of anti-prohibition, the future.

As for Rocky Mountain high, commentators, including the Raw Story editor, seem to think that Colorado's 2012 legalization chances are pretty good. But Jacob Sullum has previously reported on the trials and tribulations and general confusion of state legalization and licensing of medical marijuana in Colorado in a post-Gonzales vs. Raich era. And particularly under Obama's Department of Justice, it seems like state legalization doesn't matter much at all.

Hat tip to commenter jasno

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  1. The obvious answer to the “marijuana is safer than alcohol” argument is “we need MORE regulation of alcohol!”

    1. I wouldn’t mind to see alcohol taxes go a little bit higher.

      1. Fuck you.

  2. Why is Wayne Root currently at the top of the reason.com/blog page, when this marijuana billboard post is more recent?

      1. It’s no big deal when the squirrels cause us lowly commenters to quadruple post. But if even the Reason staff gets screwed over, I think the online infrastructure needs an overhaul.

        The Koch Brothers and that porn tycoon should start writing bigger checks.

        1. Nah…they need to end registration an threaded comments. The latter is the source of all glitches and evil.

    1. Lucy’s post always do that.

      1. It’s the fucking patriarchy, man.

    2. Lucy has said that she leaves the editor open for long periods of time as she writes her articles, and so the post time comes from the opening time and not the “post” time. Also, she is low woman on the totem pole at reason and so the patriarchy supersedes her. Blame Matt. I always do.

      1. Stupid myn and their patriarchy.

  3. Better yet, don’t regulate alcohol or marijuana…

    I’m afraid when it does get legalized, the laws will be so ridiculously stringent, it won’t have any effect – people will still buy it from criminal drug dealers, not legal outlets because of the heavy taxes it will face.

    And then opponents of drug legalization will say “See, legalizing it didn’t solve the crime problem”

    1. Cannabis is dirt cheap, and grows anywhere — I know someone who has a makeshift patch growing in a corner of the Raytheon complex he works at in my home city. Markup in the black market approaches ~5000-10000%, and is entirely the result of the costs of circumventing the nation-wide ban on a large scale. No tax or regulatory system would approach this markup, and there are fringe benefits to purchasing legalized marijuana (legal property rights, better/more consistent quality, and safety within a well-defined market).

      Depending on how onerous regulation is, there would probably be quite a few people who would simply grow their own.

  4. Young people, for the most part, don’t vote. We’ll see marijuana laws change when we see people who vote actually going to the polls and voting for ballot initiatives, instead of staying home or forgetting to vote for some reason or other.

    1. Or we could just wait until the old folks die. Progress!

      1. As the old folks die, young folks become old folks. Rinse, repeat.

  5. my classmate’s half-sister brought home $12250 a month ago. she works on the computer and moved in a $571900 home. All she did was get blessed and make use of the instructions laid out on this link (Click on menu Home more information) http://goo.gl/1H34a

  6. In 1988, after reviewing all scientific evidence brought forth in a lengthy lawsuit against the government’s prohibition of medical marijuana, the DEA’s own administrative law judge (Judge Francis Young) wrote: “MARIJUANA, IN ITS NATURAL FORM, IS ONE OF THE SAFEST THERAPEUTICALLY ACTIVE SUBSTANCES KNOWN. IN STRICT MEDICAL TERMS, MARIJUANA IS SAFER THAN MANY FOODS WE COMMONLY CONSUME.”

    Anyone that wants marijuana is already getting it. Legalizing and rationally regulating marijuana based on its safety vs risks is not adding another harmful intoxicant to society, legalizing gives people the legal opportunity to make the SAFER CHOICE! Alcohol, tobacco, many Rx drugs, many over the counter drugs, even caffeine, aspirin and non-aspirin, can all be deadly and are well documented as being the direct cause of hundreds of thousands of deaths in the USA every year!http://www.saferchoice.org/content/view/24/53/

    No one, of any age, in all of recorded history, anywhere on planet earth, has ever died from the ingredients in marijuana and they never will, marijuana is nontoxic. Many have died from marijuana prohibition and tens of millions have been jailed or otherwise harmed. In the US we arrest someone on marijuana charges every 38 seconds. Marijuana charges account for roughly 50% of all drug arrests. Would you rather have your kid locked up with killers and child molesters or would you prefer to do your own proper parenting?

    1. Drugs are bad, mmmkay.

  7. So, if alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, and we already outlaw marijuana for people’s own good, then why the hell are we allowing people to still use alcohol? This should cause people to re-evealuate the end of alcohol prohibition!

    And that billboard better not be placed anywhere near where children could see it, or the owners should be put on the sex offender registry.

  8. I’m a registered libertarian and have voted libertarian in the past 2 presidential campaigns as well as any time I can in our local elections. I have never used an illegal drug. It bothers me that so much time, energy, and money is spent focusing on this one issue which invariably turns away people who might otherwise support the party. This billboard (I understand this is not sponsored by the libertarian party) is another example of missing the point for those of us who aren’t all that interested in whether or not drugs are legalized for getting people high.

    You’ll not change a lot of peoples minds about marijuana by arguing that it is “more safe”. People that oppose drug liberalization aren’t going to deliberate over the safety of one or the other substance. As far as their concerned, you got one legal choice for intoxication so deal with it. I’m not saying the safety arguments are wrong, simply that they don’t resonate with people.

    There’s a fundamental problem with pot and most other recreational drugs that doesn’t exist with alcohol in a lot of peoples mind. Alcohol can be used with moderation (and a lot of people do) without intoxicating the user. Marijuana simply isn’t used that way. When you fire up that joint or bong or whatever, you intend to get high. The idea of intoxication is what bothers most people and keeps them from listening to reasoned arguments. Saying that one form of intoxication is safer than another misses the point.

    1. I don’t use drugs either, and I consider myself libertarian although I am certain I would not pass the many “purity tests” I see regularly on H&R.

      I see ending the drug war as absolutely fundamental to restoring civil liberties in the US. The drug war is the lynch pin in America’s drift toward a police state, and I believe that ending the WOD would put America back on the road to freedom and prosperity. People become prosperous and even wealthy when left to make their own decisions.

      While I agree with you that the difference in toxicity between cannabis and alcohol is of little importance, the effect on society of 850,000 nationwide arrests for cannabis annually has a huge toxic effect on the country.

      End the drug war. End the nanny state.

      1. I’m not against ending the “drug war” and George Will’s recent article highlighted in another hit and run piece lays out a good case for doing so. So on that point I agree with you and most other libertarians that ending the drug ware is desirable. What I don’t agree with is the tactical approach that seems to be favored by libertarians which is a near veneration of drug use. Many more people like George Will would sign on fully to the idea of ending the drug war if they weren’t constantly confronted with people who want to get smashed any way they can any way they want as justification for ending the war on drugs.

        It would be nice to be able to stand up and say intoxication is a risky endeavor, it’s not a normal state of being otherwise allostatic processes wouldn’t kick in every time someone gets intoxicated, and neuro pharmacology aided by new tools developed in neuro science are just beginning to put real scientific knowledge into place about what is happening with recreational drug usage, physical drug dependence and psychological drug dependence. Given that premise, I can readily support the idea that voluntary usage of intoxicants by informed individuals shouldn’t be a criminal activity and providing access to intoxicants through non criminal means is reasonable. Unfortunately it is difficult to find fellow libertarians who are willing to highlight and deal with the inherent risk in using intoxicants when talking about the issue.

        1. It seems that you and I are similar. I agree that intoxication is a risky endeavor, and to me at least, it is simply unappealing. Getting high strikes me as a total waste of time.

          Having said that, I have to point out that many of the most innovative and creative people in history spent at least some of their time in altered states of consciousness: Steve Jobs, for example, credits getting high on LSD as one the most important things he ever did.

          I think a lot of the “veneration” of drug use is really just simple rebellion, it is people thumbing their noses at the government.

          Like all things in life, it boils down to a trade-off. Do we continue the drug war, with all of its disastrous side effects for everybody, druggies and sober citizens alike, or do we end the drug war and get out of the business of managing the minds of supposedly free people?

    2. I hate the idea of litmus tests, but for some reason the Drug War seems like the best one for libertarians. That’s why it gets so much focus. Neither branch of the Republicrat party favors legalization, so it’s an obvious difference. Plus, the drug war causes civil rights abuses in so many other areas (like the 4th through 10th amendments, not that our rights derive from that document, but I find it a convenient shorthand) that opposition to the drug war covers a lot of ground.

    3. The purpose of pointing out that marijuana is safer is to remove the irrational fears that people have about marijuana. It helps people realize that they were lied to by their government. People who have never used marijuana, like yourself really don’t understand it. This is demonstrated by your uninformed argument that marijuana can not be used in moderation.

      You really don’t understand what “getting high” is, and it’s kind of funny that you think your form of mood alteration is somehow morally superior.

  9. They lost me at regulation. Advocacy of government restricted production and forced advertising to fund opponents to the product is supposed to be good? The unconscionable taxes that go along with this scheme are supposed to be good too?

    1. Good? No.

      Better than criminalizing harmless behavior? Yes.

      1. Exactly. I wouldn’t be comfortable overly advocating FOR regulation in this way, but it couldn’t be worse than what we have now. It’s obviously moving closer to non-idiotic policies.

        1. And let’s face it, there is absolutely no way to keep the government out of this trough. Alcohol sales generate lots of “revenue”, tobacco sales generate lots of “revenue”.

          There will always be sin taxes, and smoking pot is definitely sinful. The only way to sell the idea of freedom to the majority is to put the right price tag on it.

          “Freedom is not free!!!”.

          1. and smoking pot is definitely sinful

            Definitely? I am anxious to see this proof.

            1. It’s in the bible somewhere.

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