The CEO of Partnership at Drugfree.org has continually lobbied to run ads criticizing legal marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington. However, he says publicly that the partnership has no intention of doing so.
“A public-service ad that says: ‘By the way, voters of Colorado, you don’t know what you are doing.’ Come on,” Steve Pasierb, the partnership’s CEO told Advertising Age. “[Legalization is] happening in America,” he added.
Colorado legalized cannabis use in November 2012, and legal recreational sales began Jan. 1 this year. Washington state expects to begin legal sales this summer.
Advertising Age cited a recent Rand Corp. report concluding marijuana consumption in the U.S. jumped 40 percent from 2002 to 2010, while a Gallup Poll published more modest results, noting people trying marijuana had risen from 34 to 38 percent within the same time period. While legalization has come with bumps, confusion and several strings attached, Pasierb is absolutely right – legalization is happening.
Rather than spending the funds on anti-marijuana campaigns, Partnership at Drugfree.org has opted to concentrate their efforts in keeping marijuana out of the hands of minors. Parents have a “critical role to play to ensure that the readily available marijuana in these states do not result in higher levels of use by … their children and young teens,” the group concluded in a recent discussion panel in Denver.
The Partnership reviewed the results of their own poll of 1,603 adults at the panel, and concluded that parents believe they themselves have the most critical role in the education of their children on the risks of marijuana use.
The research also noted that while parents are in favor of medicalization, decriminalization and to a slightly lesser extent, legalization, Pasierb feels these parents have a false sense of security.
“They expect that it will come with no marketing, all kinds of restrictions and none of this will be exposed to their children, when in fact that is not true…Legalization means that this is now legally protected commercial speech.”
While legalization may protect some aspects of the marijuana industry, Colorado and Washington have taken steps to ban marijuana from the commercial speech to which Pasierb refers, currently Colorado and Washington both limit marijuana advertisements on radio, television and in print.
Earlier in the year the Partnership stirred up some controversy when they tweeted that marijuana legalization would turn the nation into zombies and would cause marijuana usage to “most likely triple.”