Opponents of football’s anti-marijuana stance are taking aim at the NFL – and they’ve got the perfect position to shoot from.

The Marijuana Policy Project, the largest pro-pot group in the United States, took out a large billboard across from the Denver football stadium in anticipation of the season opener Sept. 5. The ad took the football league to task for its zero-tolerance policy toward marijuana.

“NFL players are being told that they can go out and get completely drunk, but face no punishment from the league,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project. “But if a player gets caught using marijuana, they could be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars, forced to sit out games and deemed a troublemaker.”

“We don’t think the NFL should be punishing players for using marijuana,” Tvert said.

The Marijuana Policy Project posted a pro-marijuana billboard.(Photo: Marijuana Policy Project)

The 48-by-14-foot billboard, leased for $5,000 from Lamar Advertising, made a direct comparison between drinking and marijuana use, saying, “Stop driving players to drink! A safer choice is now legal (here).”

The NFL’s Harsh Marijuana Policy

Voters in Colorado passed an initiative to legalize marijuana last year, meaning marijuana is, in fact, legal there. The same thing happened in Washington State.

Yet despite this – and despite the fact that cannabis is not a performance-enhancing drug – a pro football player who gets caught smoking pot in Colorado could endanger his career or even his team’s chances at victory.

“We don’t think the NFL should be punishing players for using marijuana,” Tvert said.

The NFL’s policy on weed is widely considered the most draconian in professional sports. Many football players are thought to use marijuana, but the policy forces them to hide their use and remain furtive and silent.

Reaching Out In Other Sports

This was not the first time the Marijuana Policy Project has used an advertising opportunity to reach out to sports fans. In late July, the group ran a similar ad on a video board near the Brickyard 400 speedway during a three-day NASCAR event. That ad was displayed in an area with limited crowd access and was taken down after less than a day.

But the new ad in Denver had greater visibility: The billboard was much larger, and it was within view of the field at Mile High Stadium. And it was there during one of the most-watched games of the season, the opener between the Denver Broncos and the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.flowering close up

Anti-Pot Policies Stand Their Ground

The Marijuana Policy Project couldn’t ask for better publicity with its ad buys. It’s getting far more bang for its buck in free news articles like this than it is in actual advertising value. The ads are clearly targeted toward a conservative sports audience, riling up just enough controversy to guarantee free coverage coast to coast.

At the same time, the NFL is stuck with an arcane anti-pot policy that conflicts with Colorado and Washington state law. It may also conflict with the needs of players who suffer from pain and other conditions that can be treated with marijuana.

The league is unlikely to change its ways anytime soon, but the message is getting across, one way or another.

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