Weed War Erupts Around Super Bowl XLVIII

Pro- and anti-marijuana billboards planned around the game's stadium

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Just one day after a marijuana advocacy group announced it would be placing five pro-weed billboards around the New Jersey stadium where the Super Bowl will be held on Sunday, another group has announced its own anti-marijuana billboard near the stadium. An organization called SAM: Smart Approaches to Marijuana has prepared billboards with the slogan, "Marijuana kills your drive; Don't lose in the game of life."

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The organization is chaired by former congressman Patrick J. Kennedy (son of Ted Kennedy) and it describes itself as nonpartisan union of lawyers, scientists and "concerned citizens." One of the company's main goals is to prevent a "Big Marijuana" à la tobacco. Another is to promote medical marijuana research.

"Marijuana use saps motivation, perseverance and determination – the opposite of what it takes to win the Super Bowl," Kennedy said in a statement. "It is not a safe drug, especially for kids, and we need to reiterate the message to coaches, parents, players and teens alike that it has no place in football." Their ad depicts a football player and a cannabis leaf. Above the athlete are the words, "Motivation, perseverance, determination," and above the leaf, "None of the above."

Beginning tonight, the ad will run on print and digital billboards through next week in three locations. The group has placed two ads on a New Jersey stretch of I-80 and another is located off I-78, visible to travelers on their way to Newark Airport.

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Marijuana has become a topic of discussion regarding the Super Bowl this year since the teams playing – the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks – both represent states where marijuana use is legal. Yesterday, an outwardly pro-pot organization, Marijuana Policy Project, said it was placing five billboards with messaging directed at the NFL. Two of the ads bear the slogan, "Why does the league punish us for making the safer choice?" That group has also been circulating a petition online asking the NFL to "stop punishing NFL players for using marijuana." So far it has attracted over 12,000 signatures.