Not everyone on the West Coast is happy about marijuana taking its place alongside wine and beer. Vandals destroyed a billboard in Portland, Ore. Thursday night, that promoted marijuana as being “safer” than alcohol.
Paid for by the Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group that helped pass Colorado’s initiative legalizing recreational use of the drug, the billboard featured a picture of a pint of beer, a glass of wine, and a marijuana leaf with the words “beer,” “wine” and “safer” positioned correspondingly above each image.
Mason Tvert, the director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, said the billboard was meant to coincide with Portland’s Beer & Wine Festival, which takes place the weekend of March 30 and 31, and draws thousands of people to the city’s downtown.
“Portland is a city where a strong majority of people realize that prohibition of marijuana has failed,” Tvert told the Daily News. “More voters are acknowledging the fact that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, so this is an important message to keep pushing.”
Pointing to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tvert argues that, unlike alcohol, no one has ever died because of smoking too much pot. “Marijuana is far less toxic than alcohol. It’s far less addictive, and far less harmful to the body in general,” Tvert said.
Unlike in Colorado and Washington, voters in Oregon failed to pass a ballot measure that would have legalized marijuana in the state in the 2012 election, but Tvert says that pro-pot forces will try again in 2016. While the billboard attracted a fair share of media attention over the past few days, it will not be repaired in time for this weekend’s festivities. To hear the event’s organizers tell it, marijuana may not be an outcast at the festival for too much longer. “We are a tourist industry and if it gets legalized and we can sell it as one of our fine products, all the better,” Steve Woolard of the Spring Beer & Wine Fest told KOIN News. If so, Woolard said, the organizers could simply rename the event “The Spring Beer, Wine & Weed Festival.”
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