East Rutherford, NJ- The Super Bowl happens to be one of, if not the most, anticipated sporting events in the U.S., making it a prime occasion to reach millions of people. The two teams facing off this year, the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks also happen to come from the two states that legalized marijuana for recreational use. This has presented marijuana activists with the perfect opportunity to push their agenda through the placement of pro-pot billboards around the MetLife stadium.
Those fortunate enough to be attending Sunday’s big game in East Rutherford will likely run across at least one of the five billboards strategically placed along the freeways leading to the stadium. The ads sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Project also take a jab at the safety of football and alcohol which are tightly intertwined.
“Taking a big hit of marijuana possess less potential harm than taking a big hit from an NFL linebacker or a big shot of tequila,” MPP Director of Communications Mason Tvert said.
A past billboard, placed at Denver’s Mile High Stadium last September questioned the NFL on their pot prohibition and their issue with drunken driving. The billboard encouraged the league to “Stop Driving Players to Drink,” by picturing a player propped up with a glass and beer, reminding them “A safer alternative is now legal here.”
MPP also started a petition to encourage the NFL to stop punishing players who uses marijuana—according to recent statistics between 50 and 60 percent of players tested positive for pot. Tvert told USA Today he was in New York and would present the petition to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
“I think a lot of people will be shocked at just how many people are getting in trouble for using a less harmful substance than alcohol,” Tvert said. “When you’re sitting in a full stadium and you think about the idea of everyone in there being arrested 10 times over, it really gets you thinking about just how many people that is.”
The MPP is seeing the Super Bowl as the most opportune time to get a wider conversation about marijuana going nationwide. The issue has picked up a great deal of steam and last week Goddell said he would allow players to use marijuana if helped treat concussions.
Even the federal government is beginning to slowly shift their position on pot legalization as Attorney General Eric Holder announced they would loosen banking regulations so pot sellers in Colorado and Washington State will have access to banks, loans and investment opportunities.
This is one step in the process of lifting marijuana prohibition and states as leading the charge. Several states including Florida, Missouri and New York are now mulling medical marijuana bills. When more states recognize the medical benefits of marijuana in could pave the way for broader legalization of recreational marijuana.
Although societal norms towards marijuana are changing, it remains a concern for safety advocates who are believe legal pot would lead to more intoxicated driving, and will be more widely available to teens.