NASCAR fans made history this weekend as the first sports viewers of a pro-cannabis television advertisement that aired Friday night during the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Titled “New Beer,” the 30-second spot, begins with all the trappings of a typical beer add, then switches gears and becomes more of a public service announcement, ends with the tag line:
“Marijuana: less harmful than beer, and time to treat it that way.”
Created by the Marijuana Policy Project- America’s biggest pro-cannabis advocacy group- the video will go into rotation this weekend, airing dozens of times starting Friday.
The ad, claiming that cannabis is the “new beer”, has less calories, side effects and does not lead to domestic disputes or overdoses, cuts to a man washing the dishes high on cannabis while his wife smiles while. Other than football, no other sport has such a cultural link to beer and alcohol than NASCAR. The advertisement will be only aired on television and will not be seen at the race or anywhere near the raceway.
The ad ends with two couples high on cannabis at a beach side fire. One of the girls is wearing a flag sweater. The message is clear, cannabis is a healthy alternative to beer and alcohol.
“Our goal is to make this weekend’s event as educational as it will be enjoyable,” Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “We simply want those adults who will be enjoying a beer or two to think about the fact that marijuana is an objectively less harmful product.”
Neither medical or recreational cannabis is legal in Indiana and in fact the Midwestern state has stricter laws for cannabis use than most states. But Tyert believes the ad spot will reach a broader audience beyond the NASCAR market demographic and strengthen support for cannabis legalization nationally.
“Marijuana is less toxic and less addictive than alcohol, and it is far less likely to contribute to violent and reckless behavior,” Tyert said. “We hope racing fans who support marijuana prohibition will question the logic of punishing adults simply for using a product that is safer than those produced by sponsors of NASCAR events and teams that race in them.
Tvert told USA Today that the ad was bought at a “non-profit rate” of $2,200 and was shot on a $350 budget.
Miller Lite and Royal Crown Whiskey are also sponsors of the NASCAR Brickyard 400.