Pot Prohibitionists Emphasize That Marijuana Is Mainstream and Respectable


On Saturday the pot prohibitionists at Project SAM took out a full-page ad in The New York Times in response to the paper's recent endorsement of marijuana legalization. See if you can figure out the group's message based on the illustration that dominates the ad:

Project SAM

The message seems to be that pot is not just for potheads anymore—that respectable, productive, mainstream people across America (including the sort who wear suits to work) enjoy marijuana. "As someone who has been working in the legalization movement for over a decade to smash unhelpful stereotypes about who uses marijuana," says Marijuana Majority founder Tom Angell, "I actually love this ad. The vast majority of people who see it in the newspaper are going to think it's a pro-legalization ad making the point that not only hippies use marijuana, but successful businesspeople do too."

But judging from the text beneath the picture, that is not what Project SAM is getting at. Rather, its point is that once marijuana is legal, it will be sold not by some dude on the street but by suit-clad men in offices. Scary, no?

Project SAM, whose strategy for propping up prohibition consists mainly of inserting the word big in front of the word marijuana, thinks it is. After all, people hate Big Tobacco, so they will naturally flee in terror from the very notion of Big Marijuana, another evil industry bent on selling a dried psychoactive plant. That's the idea, anyway. But for antiprohibitionists, changing the marijuana business from a criminal enterprise into a legitimate industry counts as an advantage of legalization, not a drawback.

Among the reasons why that development should be welcomed (which include lower prices, higher quality, and better selection) is that the artificially high profits generated by prohibition tend to enrich and empower people a bit scarier than the friendly-looking pot dealer in the Project SAM ad. As the Drug Policy Alliance's Bill Piper observed in a recent debate with Project SAM co-founder Kevin Sabet, "We already have 'Big Marijuana.' They're called drug cartels, and they cut people's heads off….Why let these thugs keep billions of dollars a year if we don't have to?"

Angell adds: "Most people who bother to read the text are going to realize that legalization means that a professional, aboveground industry will be taking control of the marijuana trade once we take it out of the hands of the violent drug cartels and gangs that run the show in the prohibition-created black market. I'm a little sad that SAM didn't ask Marijuana Majority to help fund the ad."

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  1. Fuck, you mean potheads are now in disguise?

    1. Much like Transformers.

      1. I find this deeply disturbing. Michael Bay is behind this deception, then?

        1. The Decepabongers are very dangerous.

  2. Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Progressive Insurance’s former CEO and Chairman, Peter Lewis, Ted Turner, Michael Bloomberg,…

    God forbid any of them ever got the keys to the executive bathroom?

    I don’t think so!

    1. Jobs did LSD!!! What a waste of humanity.

    2. You left out a few non-account folks who also have admitted to smoking pot on occasion. Every US President since Carter.

      So we all know where pot-smoking leads…

      1. Reagan? HW?

        Please. There’s no need to gild the lilly..

  3. Tom Angell, “I actually love this ad. The vast majority of people who see it in the newspaper are going to think it’s a pro-legalization ad making the point that not only hippies use marijuana, but successful businesspeople do too.”

    I thought it was a “pro” ad. Someone probably didn’t think it through before using that picture.

    1. I thought it was a pro ad, too.

      I think what really messes up their message is that they have “Perception” and “Reality” switched. On the picture, I mean.* They’re saying the perception is hippy, but the reality is respectable, when I think they meant the opposite.

      *Yeah, probably in their heads, too.

      1. “Hippies walk among us” is a scary thought. I’d pay at least $49.95 for some kind of hippie-detection device.

        1. I have this rock…

          1. Does it detect or repeal hippies? I’d pay even more for the latter.

            1. Repel, though repeal is okay, too.

            2. Death Metal repels hippies.

              1. I read something this morning that suggested that Appalachian Death Metal is a thing.

        2. There aren’t any hippies any more.

          1. Sure there are. I mean, look at this ad. They’re just in disguise.

      2. I don’t think they even know what they mean.

    2. Yep. Keep up the good work SAM.

  4. Worst. Photoshop. Ever.

    1. You can totes see the pixels, like, cmon.

  5. In the bizzaro world they live in, I’m sure that ad made perfect sense to them.

  6. We can’t have KKKorporations profiting off marijuana! I mean, uh, KKKorporations!

    1. plus, Koch Brothers! or something

  7. That is going to be used in advertising and marketing classes as an example of how to muddy and even contradict your message.

  8. Any of our Montananananans online right now? I have a skiing-related question.

      1. My Pa and I are looking at potential places to ski this coming winter, what with PCMR being up in the air and all.

        So, we like lots of beginner terrain and slopeside accommodations (hotel or condo). I like to be in or near a town with some casual apres ski places (in other words, I don’t like being stuck with a single hotel’s dining & drinking options).

        Any suggesstions in MT?

        1. The #1 deciding factor, if I had to give it one, would be a good variety of beginner terrain.

          1. Wife remembers a good deal of beginner and intermediate terrain.

            Here’s the map.

          2. Big Sky is HUGE. but I’ve never been there. I did however fly into Kalispell/Glacier and ski Big Mountain aka Whitefish. If you can ski a groomed blue then this place is pretty great, but not the flagship ski area of MT. The main lift offers some 2000 vertical of intermediate cruiser. We took a day off from skiing to cross country ski in glacier NP which was pretty nice.

            If never skiing the same run twice is important go Big Sky, there is no other choice. If want something a little off the beaten path I found Whitefish to be an excellent experience.

            1. I can ski intermediate cruisers, but not all day. My Pa can do maybe one or two intermediate runs a day. Depending on conditions, of course. Corn & ice will prevent us from skiing the steeper pitches (this coming from people who learned to ski in New England, but we were much younger then). But I don’t think corn and ice are an issue unless it’s very early or very late season, no? We plan to ski late January/early February.

              1. Another thing to keep in mind is Montana is cold compared to Utah. I may not be the best for advice for your tastes as diamonds are a waffles best friend.

        2. Big Sky

          As I recall, the town was displaced a bit from the slopes, but there are several hotels right on the slopes. We rented a nice log home and took the bus up.

          1. Thanks! I’ve heard good reviews of that place.

          1. Not a whole lot of beginner trails, there.

  9. A better version, as a TV ad:

    We are in the hallway of an office, overhearing what sounds like a group of potheads talking about getting high. A conference room door opens, and we see that they are all middle-aged fatcats in monocles and top hats….

    1. My God. . .you mean libertarians? I never suspected until now.

      1. Well, we are just Republicans who want to smoke pot, after all.

    2. Better yet, devise some prop that would suggest that the meeting was being run by the Koch brothers.

      Maybe a boardroom with a wall of windows exposing a refinery with the the letters “KO” exposed and a paper plant with the letters “CH” exposed in signage. Both, of course, photoshopped to show massive amounts of visible air pollution.

  10. respectable, productive, mainstream people across America (including the sort who wear suits to work)

    I don’t respect anyone who wears a suit to work. Suits are usually the most useless, self-important people in the room.

    1. When I objectify men on the metro during my commute, I always dismiss the suits immediately.

    2. This, from a bureaucrat?

    3. I work with multi-millionaire suits and I respect the hell out of the majority of them. You try running a multi-billion dollar corporation these days.

  11. After all, people hate Big Tobacco, so they will naturally flee in terror from the very notion of Big Marijuana, another evil industry bent on selling a dried psychoactive plant.

    On the other hand, it is a New York Times ad. So, that sort of nonsense might actually work.

  12. Looks like they were trying to appeal to hippies and hipsters. If pot becomes legal, then big corporations will sell it. They might even have it at (gasp) Walmart! Better to keep it illegal and cool, and let minorities suffer the consequences, than ruin its image.

    1. This was actually an argument used to defeat the marijuana legalization referendum in California a few years ago. Many of the NorCal counties where pot is grown commercially were surprisingly in the “No” column.

      1. I don’t know why that would be surprising. It would have fucked up their whole business model.

        1. Fair enough. You would think they’d have confidence in their product, however, to hold their own against any of the super mass-produced stuff from Corporate America. I’d pay a premium for the “grown in Humboldt County” stuff.

          Also, it wasn’t just being used as those who possibly had a self-interest in keeping the regulatory regime as is; it was being used by city-dwellers with zero connection to the NorCal farms (other than their once-monthly trips to their semi-legal dispensary).

  13. Patrick Kennedy may be the dumbest motherfucker on the planet. And that’s the same planet that holds Nick Kristof and Obama.

    1. I don’t know about their predilections to engage in incest, but these guys are not dumb. They are fairly sophisticated scamsters, even Patrick Kennedy … though he’s pretty much riding on his family’s coattails.

    2. I’m pretty sure he’s actually in the pay of “Big Marijuana”. He’s like that anti-fracking activist in Promised Land. You can’t be as bad at a job as he is unless it’s on purpose.

  14. SOunds like we know what the deal is there.

  15. “We already have ‘Big Marijuana.’ They’re called drug cartels, and they cut people’s heads off….Why let these thugs keep billions of dollars a year if we don’t have to?”

    Remember the Six Point – Brooklyn Brewery war of ’07. Yeah, me neither.

    1. Nobody was left alive to tell the tale, obviously.

  16. There should be a movie about prohibitionist idiots. We could call it I am SAM.

    1. I do not like the pills or booze.
      They make me sick, they make me snooze.
      I will not stop my smoking pot.
      Keep the booze SAM. I like it not.

      But I am SAM.
      I’m here to help.
      When you smoke pot
      that’s not good health.
      So if you toke
      or vape or dab
      We’ll force you in
      to drug rehab!

      I will not join you SAM I am.
      I do not need a rehab, SAM.
      I will not stop my smoking pot.
      Keep your pills. I like them not.


      1. Actually, I kind of like the pills and booze too. Equal opportunity stoner here.

  17. I’m confused. I thought hippies were supposed to be cool while business people want to murder kittens for profit.

  18. Srslytho…
    If goobermint “legalizes” marijuana as they’ve done with alcohol, only big, well-breaded (and politically connected) corporations will be allowed to “manufacture” marijuana. They rest of us will continue to fill the jails and prisons.
    (Yes, Americans can brew a limited amount of beer and wine for personal consumption, but making spirits without permission from your betters is still a federal “crime” punishable by a huge loss of freedom, liberty and money.)

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