The iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway played host to the annual Brickyard 400 over the last weekend, but the biggest story isn't Ryan Newman putting an end to a 49-race losing streak, it's the commotion that took place outside the track.
Friday, as race fans were headed to the track, a pro-marijuana advocate, the Marijuana Policy Project, was coming under fire for the content of a commercial that was supposed to play at the event throughout the weekend.
The ad, which might feature the coolest sounding voice-over artist on the planet, touted a few empirically provable facts (here's just one link) about the effects of marijuana versus beer. Namely, the ad claims that marijuana is a calorie-free alternative to beer, that it's less toxic than beer (which is why you don't get hangovers and no one has ever overdosed on weed), and there's been no published link illustrating that marijuana leads to reckless or violent behavior (unlike beer).
The ad, however, barely saw the light of day before it was pulled down after a complaint from the Drug Free America Foundation - people who get lots of donations from interesting sources. The firm that put up the ad, Grazie Media, worked quickly to remove it, apologizing for promoting marijuana at a family event.
Completely disregarding the loose usage of "family event" in that context (can it be a family event when several racers are sponsored by beer companies?), the DFAF was extremely offended by the plug, saying, "This campaign falsely claims marijuana is safer than alcohol and promotes illicit drug use in a state where marijuana is illegal."
Therein lies the stickiest part of this situation. While the pro-marijuana movement has been finding its way into statehouses around the country, in Indiana it's still illegal. It's important to note that the ad in no way advocated the illegal use of marijuana, however, even broaching the subject in some states is enough to get groups agitated.
In a statement, the Marijuana Policy Project called the removal, "the exact type of hypocrisy that motivated us to run this ad … We are absolutely baffled by the Drug Free America Foundation's claims that marijuana is not safer than alcohol. If their goal is to educate people about drugs, why on earth would they want to prevent people from learning that alcohol use is far more toxic and likely to contribute to violent behavior than marijuana? It is clear this organization is more concerned about maintaining marijuana prohibition than it is about maintaining public health and safety."
A quick trip over to the DFAF website might support that notion. Users visiting the site can find lots of content that points to the negative aspects of marijuana, but nothing that dissuades against excess drinking or even drugs like heroin and cocaine.
For now, though, the matter is settled. Both sides expressed their aggravation with the way things went, the DFAF isn't planning on pursuing the matter further, and the MPP is waiting a bit to pick its next battleground.
According to Mason Tvert, spokesman for the MPP, "We do not currently have any plans to air this ad outside of promoting it online, but that could change in the future if another good opportunity arises."