Pro-marijuana ads on Portland buses draw fireAP , Associated Press
Oct. 2, 2013 4:59 PM ET
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Groups that fight substance abuse want to snuff out ads on Portland area buses and bus shelters that promote a ballot question seeking to legalize recreational marijuana use.
The Marijuana Policy Project unveiled ads Wednesday that appear on four public transit buses and in two bus shelters. The campaign features six ads, each with a photo of an adult explaining why he or she prefers marijuana over alcohol and asking why they should be punished for making the choice.
Portland residents will vote in November on whether to make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to 2 1/2 ounces of pot. The law would prohibit using marijuana in public, and would not legalize its sale.
A community group called 21 Reasons said it has asked the Greater Portland Transit District to pull the ads, said Kate Perkins, a co-founder of the group, which is committed to keeping youth alcohol- and drug-free.
She said the ads endorse marijuana and are a bad idea because a large proportion of bus riders are children.
"There are plenty of places where the pro-marijuana people can advertise where they aren't putting their message in front of our young people," Perkins said.
David Boyer, political director for Marijuana Policy Project Maine, said adults and children are bombarded by alcohol advertising and that the new ads merely compare alcohol and marijuana. The ads claim that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and doesn't make people "rowdy and reckless."
"We want voters to question whether we should punish people for using a substance that's safer than alcohol," he said.
Greg Jordan, general manager of the transit district, said it allows political adveristing, and that the ads are political because they support a ballot question.
"It's really a First Amendment issue," he said.