Smoke-a-Bowl Sunday: Drug policy reformers use Super Bowl to highlight the alcohol-marijuana connection

By David Sirota , written on January 29, 2014

From The News Desk

Because the Super Bowl is a mini police state replete with panoptic surveillance, it will probably be difficult for fans attending the game to consume marijuana without getting arrested. Even though the two teams come from states where marijuana is legal, and even with all the jokes about the game thus being the Smoke-a-Bowl, fans will only be able to consume the far more toxic alcohol. Why? Because unlike in Colorado and Washington, alcohol is legal in New Jersey and marijuana is not.

While that reality is probably a bit of a buzzkill for some fans, it will not stop the drug policy reformers who succeeded in legalizing marijuana in Colorado from using the Super Bowl to draw attention to the alcohol-marijuana comparison.

As reported previously by Pando, that comparison was the central message of the successful Colorado campaign to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Building on that success, the Marijuana Policy Project has purchased billboards near the Meadowlands reminding fans just how insane it is for laws to effectively encourage the consumption of a far-more-toxic drug - and to do so during a sporting event that is, unto itself, far more dangerous than consuming cannabis. Here are the billboards:

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MPP has also launched a petition drive to pressure the NFL to stop punishing its own players who consume marijuana.

Using an event like the Super Bowl to make this point is particularly powerful. Professional sports are immersed in alcohol advertising - and alcohol itself. One study, in fact, found that one in 12 pro sports fans are drunk by the time they leave a game. No doubt, that has more than something to do with pro sports having long been plagued by alcohol-fueled violence.

Would there be less of such violence if fans looking for a buzz were allowed to choose marijuana instead of alcohol? It is impossible to say for sure. However, the federal drug czar's has already suggested that cannabis is "the safest thing in the world" and there is plenty of social science research showing that alcohol is far more of a factor in violence than marijuana. Those are some of the messages drug policy reformers hope Super Bowl fans get when they are slurping down their beers at this Sunday’s game.

[Images adapted from Thinkstock]