A new pro-marijuana billboard that plays off the slogan promoting the Waste Management Phoenix Open was unveiled in Phoenix on Monday by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.
“If beer and golf make for the ‘greatest party on grass’…Why can’t adults enjoy a safer party on grass?” reads the billboard on the southwest corner of Seventh and Lincoln streets.
It tweaks the Phoenix Open’s slogan, “Greatest show on grass,” just days before the main events of the PGA tournament that draws an estimated 500,000 attendees each year.
The campaign believes the Phoenix Open is the perfect opportunity to highlight social acceptance of alcohol versus the stigmatization marijuana users face.
“There’s certainly going to be a lot of alcohol consumption there,” said J.P. Holyoak, campaign chairman. “That’s not something that I’m opposed to, but why should we continue to criminalize and arrest people for choosing something that is objectively safer than alcohol?”
Their message highlights the importance of personal responsibility when adults use any substance.
“Our message is simple,” Holyoak said. “Enjoy alcohol responsibly, but adults should be able to choose the safer alternative and enjoy cannabis responsibly as well.”
Holyoak said he doesn’t believe that the billboard unfairly targets the Phoenix Open.
“Certainly there will be a lot of alcohol sponsors at this event,” Holyoak said. “Why can’t adults choose something that’s objectively safer than that? I’d be glad to have that conversation with the organizers. I’d be surprised if they disagree with me.”
Holyoak said the campaign made a deliberate choice to avoid the stereotyped marijuana user in favor of a clean-cut couple on the billboard.
“There are a lot of stereotypes that go along with marijuana that don’t ring true,” Holyoak said. “These stereotypes would be the equivalent of saying that everyone who enjoys a glass of wine was a wino on the streets, drinking out of a paper bag and stumbling around. Most adults who consume marijuana are simply responsible working people, family members, and parents. They’re normal people — so I think it’s absolutely inappropriate to invoke these stereotypes of cannabis consumers when it’s not the reality.”
Holyoak said he hopes the billboard inspires honest conversations about marijuana.
“We need to stop with the propaganda and stereotypes,” Holyoak said. “Instead, we need to have the honest conversation about: ‘Does prohibition work?’ ‘Why do we have prohibition?’ and ‘Should we continue with this failed policy?’”
The campaign hopes to shift the discussion away from marijuana itself and onto the regulations that surround it.
“This isn’t really a question of, ‘Yes, marijuana,’ or ‘No, marijuana,’ because it’s already out there, it’s easily accessible and readily available to anybody who wants it,” Holyoak said. “The real choice that we’re making here is do we want to keep criminalizing marijuana, and enriching criminal drug dealers and cartels in that process or are we better off taxing and regulating it for the benefit of public education and healthcare.
“That’s our real choice.”