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Don’t Drive High On Marijuana Even If You’re Being Chased By An Axe Murderer, Federal PSA Says

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The latest push by the federal government to deter marijuana-impaired driving is coming to TV, radio and the web. Its message? Even if you’re being chased by an axe-wielding psychopath, it’s not worth driving high.

The ad, a partnership between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Ad Council, is the first TV spot developed by Vox Creative, the advertising arm of Vox Media. In it, two men run for their lives from a would-be murderer, dodging axe blows while reciting reasons not to drive stoned.

The men ultimately find a vehicle to escape the scene, but the driver pauses before he turns the key in the ignition. “Wait wait wait,” he says. “I can’t drive. I’m high.”

(Don’t worry. The two would-be murder victims swap seats and end up getting away safely while the sober one mans the wheel.)

“The rules around marijuana use can be confusing. But when it comes to marijuana use and driving, all you need to remember is one rule: Driving impaired is illegal everywhere.”

The Ad Council campaign also includes radio and online advertisements. A 30-second version of the video will run on TV, while a longer, 80-second version (embedded above) will reportedly run on Vox.com and the brand’s ad marketplace, Concert.

“Many marijuana users don’t see a problem with driving after use, but research shows marijuana can slow reaction time, impair judgment of distance, and decrease coordination – all skills necessary for the safe operating of a vehicle,” the Ad Council said in a statement accompanying the new video. “Our campaign targets young men aged 18 to 35, many of whom reject the common stereotypes of marijuana users.”

Stereotypes or no, the campaign reminds consumers that driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal in all 50 U.S. states—even if cannabis itself is legal in a growing number of them.

“The rules around marijuana use can be confusing,” its website says. “But when it comes to marijuana use and driving, all you need to remember is one rule: Driving impaired is illegal everywhere.”

Beyond the video and radio ads, the awareness push also includes a number of self-aware signage with messages such as “This is an ad that says you shouldn’t drive high.”

"This is an ad that says you shouldn't drive high" poster

Courtesy of the Ad Council, NHTSA and Vox Creative

As more states have considered legalizing marijuana in recent years, highway safety has become a major focus. Opponents often contend that increased roadway risks themselves are enough to tap the brakes on reform.

In a typical example, the Washington Post’s editorial board in 2014 came out against legalization in Washington, D.C., citing “negative consequences, including increased instances of impaired driving.”

While being impaired no doubt increases drivers’ danger to themselves and others, some critics have complained that the risks of marijuana-impaired driving have been overblown, used as a fear tactic to chill cannabis reform. They argue that research on cannabis and driving is still thin and conflicted, and that the drug’s effect on driving pales in comparison to alcohol and some prescription drugs.

A report commissioned by Congress and published last year cast doubt on the dire warnings of THC-impaired driving. “Although laboratory studies have shown that marijuana consumption can affect a person’s response times and motor performance, studies of the impact of marijuana consumption on a driver’s risk of being involved as a crash have produced conflicting results, with some studies finding little or no increased risk of a crash from marijuana usage,” the Congressional Research Service wrote.

NHTSA, part of the Department of Transportation, has long acknowledged that THC concentration in drivers’ blood levels does not correlate with driver impairment. (The campaign even includes that fact on its website. “Unlike alcohol, there is no correlation between rising THC level and driver impairment,” it says. But that doesn’t mean it’s safe to drive high: “Some research studies have found that peak performance deficits are observed long after peak THC level occurs.”)

The lack of a clear correlation between marijuana and impaired driving has been enough to push some jurisdictions to reconsider per-se THC limits, under which drivers can be charged with a DUI based on the amount of THC in their blood regardless of any evidence of actual impairment.

In Pennsylvania, lawmakers last month introduced a bill that would force police instead to prove impairment. The legislation would exempt medical marijuana patients from the state’s existing DUI law, and police would instead have to demonstrate that a patient’s driving was actually impaired by the drug.

Meanwhile, Congress is taking steps to require states to study the impacts of marijuana-impaired driving. Legislation introduced last month would force states that have legalized cannabis, and only those states, to consider how to educate and discourage people from driving while high. Advocates have questioned that approach, noting that while impaired driving is an important issue, it’s not limited to states with legal cannabis.

Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to take a number of steps related to marijuana-impaired driving, including directing federal agencies to prepare a report on “the establishment of a national clearinghouse for purposes of facilitating research on marijuana-impaired driving.” Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), a sponsor of the bill, also wants the report to outline how researchers in states that haven’t legalized marijuana can still access cannabis from dispensaries to study the drug’s effects on driving.

Congress rejected another amendment, however, that would have required NHTSA “carry out a collaborative research effort to study the effect that marijuana has on driving and research ways to detect and reduce incidences of driving under the influences of marijuana.”

Colorado’s Marijuana Legalization Law Decreases Crime In Neighboring States, Study Finds

Photo courtesy of Carlos Gracia

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Ben Adlin is a Seattle-based writer and editor. He has covered cannabis as a journalist since 2011, most recently as a senior news editor for Leafly.

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NFL Funds Marijuana Research As Federal Prohibition ‘Adversely’ Impacts Studies Into Opioid Alternative For Players

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A commission formed between the NFL and the league’s players union plans to award up to $1 million in grants for researchers to investigate the therapeutic potential of marijuana, CBD and other alternatives to opioids for treating pain.

At a press conference on Tuesday, a representative from the NFL-NFLPA’s Joint Pain Management Committee (PMC) said “clearly there are a lot of great ideas in this space and there’s a lot of important research that needs to be funded.”

Asked by Marijuana Moment if the ongoing prohibition of cannabis as a Schedule I drug is to blame for the relative lack of definitive science on cannabis’s effects, PMC cochair Dr. Kevin Hill said the federal policy “definitely adversely affects the level of research that is allowed.”

That said, Hill also pointed to a lack of funding into this area of research and said it “affects it more adversely.”

“You have a lot of folks—both states and companies—who are profiting considerably through the sale of cannabis and other cannabinoids, and most of those groups are not contributing to the science,” he said, “I think that’s one of the great things about this request for proposals is that obviously the players are stakeholders and we want them to have the best in terms of pain management, so we’re interested in trying to find out some of the answers that people have been saying that they’re interested in for a number of years.”

The grant funding opportunity is meant to “solicit proposals from investigators who have the current capability to carry out studies aimed at supplementing the PMC’s knowledge about pain management and athletic performance in elite football players,” a description states.

The league specifically wants proposals on three areas of inquiry:

  • the effects of cannabinoids on pain in elite football players (post-surgical and/or in daily pain management)
  • the effects of non-pharmacologic treatments on pain in elite football players (postsurgical and/or in daily pain management)
  • the effects of cannabis or cannabinoids on athletic performance (e.g., psychomotor, reaction time, cardiorespiratory function) in elite football players.”

Pre-proposal applications are due by July 31, the NFL notice states.

The committee issued an initial request for information on the issue in February, and was given a series of primary research objectives. That included exploring whether substances such as marijuana or CBD could replace opioids for routine pain management in players and the impact of cannabinoids on athletic performance.

The joint NFL-NFLPA committee held two informational forums on CBD last year, and while their initial findings were not definitive, PMC determined that the non-intoxicating cannabis compound shows promise in the treatment of some forms of pain, but the science doesn’t currently live up to the “hype.”

The panel “really felt there was not enough research and information on benefits of other alternatives to opioids for both acute and chronic pain” after those forums, a representative said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the league’s drug testing policy changed demonstrably last year as part of a collective bargaining agreement.

Under the policy, NFL players will not face the possibility of being suspended from games over positive tests for any drug—not just marijuana.

The decision reflects a significant shift in the league’s approach to drug use by players, with the agreement emphasizing the need to focus on “ensuring evaluation and treatment” rather than punishment. Now those who test positive for drugs, exhibit behaviors that indicate drug misuse or self-refer themselves will be required to enter an “intervention program” where they would receive an evaluation and treatment plan.

Testing positive for prohibited substances after that point would result in a half-week salary loss for first violations, a one-week salary loss for second violations, a two-week salary loss for third violations and a three-week salary loss for fourth and subsequent violations. The threat of suspensions would be removed.

In a similar vein, the MLB decided in 2019 to remove cannabis from the league’s list of banned substances. Baseball players can consume marijuana without risk of discipline, but officials clarified last year that they can’t work while under the influence and can’t enter into sponsorship contracts with cannabis businesses, at least for the time being.

Meanwhile, a temporary NBA policy not to randomly drug test players for marijuana amid the coronavirus pandemic may soon become permanent, the league’s top official said in December. Rather than mandate blanket tests, Commissioner Adam Silver said the league would be reaching out to players who show signs of problematic dependency, not those who are “using marijuana casually.”

Connecticut Governor Says Senate-Approved Marijuana Legalization Bill Will Be ‘Model’ For U.S. As House Prepares To Vote

Image element courtesy of Marco Verch.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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How Politicians Are Celebrating The Marijuana Holiday 4/20 This Year

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The country has come a long way since the days of politicians dismissing or shying away from marijuana issues. And a good example of that shift is the ever-growing number of lawmakers who are leaning into the cannabis holiday 4/20 with calls for reform.

For example, to kick of Tuesday’s Senate session, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) spoke on the floor about the need to end federal marijuana prohibition, saying that “hopefully the next time this unofficial holiday 4/20 rolls around, our country will have made progress.”

Then there are the tweets—so many tweets—from state and congressional lawmakers, office seekers and regulators marking the occasion. It’s become a theme each year, and as more states pursue legalization, it seems more elected officials have grown comfortable embracing the holiday in their own ways.

Here’s what politicians are saying about cannabis this 4/20: 

Members of Congress

Congressional candidates

State officials and parties

Local officials

Former federal officials

International lawmakers

Meanwhile, dozens of brands and organizations are also celebrating 4/20 with a variety of promotions, events and calls to action.

Schumer Worries Senate Marijuana Banking Vote Could Undermine Broader Legalization Push

Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Free Marijuana For Vaccinations And Cannabis Dog Toys: How Brands Are Celebrating 4/20 This Year

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Marijuana advocates and enthusiasts have a lot to celebrate on this year’s unofficial cannabis holiday 4/20.

State-level legalization has continued to spread in 2021—adding New York, Virginia and New Mexico to the list of adult-use states within the span of weeks. Congressional leaders are on the verge of introducing legislation to end federal prohibition, and Democrats are in control of both chambers plus the White House, raising hopes that comprehensive reform will be enacted this session.

But one thing hasn’t changed in 2021: companies and organizations are still doing their most to promote brands and products with marijuana-themed promotions and events on April 20.

And it makes sense. Cannabis reform is popular, with a new national poll finding a record 69 percent of Americans in favor of legalization. Plus, more adults have access to marijuana products to safely and legally enjoy the festivities, even if things still look a little different amid the pandemic.

The result of all of this is a lot of businesses and organizations trying to get in on the action, including those that aren’t necessarily tied directly to the cannabis industry.

Here’s a rundown of major brands that are celebrating 4/20:

Ben & Jerry’s

Keeping with a theme it set out last year, ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s is using its platform to promote federal marijuana reform. Digital billboards and a van covered in advertising promoting the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act could be seen in the nation’s capitol, paid for by the activist-minded business.

And in partnership with the ACLU, Ben & Jerry’s is launching a call-to-action, asking Americans to text “MORE” to 40456 “to show their support of the MORE Act.”

Jimmy John’s

The sandwich company is inviting enthusiasts to engage with its social media feeds on 4/20 for a chance to win limited-edition merchandise—a bean bag chair modeled after its signature jalepeno chips.

They will also be streaming a “wake & bake” session on their Instagram live account that features actor and comedian Rob Huebel taking viewers through a “guided breaditation” that involves “vibe-filled, euphemism-filled, bread-science-filled words of introspection.”

Hotels.com

Up until 4:20am on 4/20, people who book hotel reservations through Hotels.com can send an email with their confirmation receipt to [email protected] for a chance to win a $200 room service credit… or “munchie money.”

“The perks included as part of this Munchie Money deal are truly the culmination of all the best aspects of being a Hotels.com rewards member,” Jennifer Dohm, head of PR, said. “From late checkout to a bonus night stay, onlyHotels.com allows you to get rewarded just for reserving a stay. Getting your massive room service spread covered doesn’t hurt either!”

Nuggs

The plant-based food company is getting in on the holiday as well, offering a $420 giveaway to select Instagram followers who send them a message showing a receipt for any product that ends in $4.20.

“You can buy literally anything from anywhere, and any variation of $4.20 counts (ex: $64.20, $114.20, etc),” Nuggs said. “Remember, we said we MIGHT send you $420… winners will be randomly selected over the next few days and notified via IG DM.”

BarkBox

The dog toy and treat business is back at it again with another round of 4/20 themed dog goodies. Get a “spinach burrito,” “spice grinder” or a “single maple leaf” for your furry friend.

“In honor of the upcoming very normal April 20th in this very normal month, we would like to direct your attention to these very normal toys available for a limited time,” BarkBox said in a blog post. “We sourced these toys from a totally normal farm owned by a totally normal Jared, a farmer.”

Slim Jim

Slim Jim is latching onto the converging 4/20 and DogeCoin trends to raise money for World Central Kitchen.

Snickers

Snickers is also trying to ride the Doge and cannabis wave.

discovery+

The TV station is launching a new marijuana-themed version of the cooking competition show Chopped.

Paramount+

Paramount+ also wants you to stay home and watch TV today.

Grand Theft Auto

Rockstar Games is offering free virtual gifts and bonuses in GTA Online.

Call of Duty

Cannabis-themed items launched in Black Ops Cold War and Warzone.

White Castle

The burger joint with a reputation for attracting cannabis enthusiasts is promoting its $4.20 Muncheese meal and offering free deliveries through UberEats for orders of $15 or more.

Lagunitas Brewing Co.

The beer company launched a new ale to commemorate the Waldos, the group California teens who began the 420 craze in the 1970s.

Weedmaps

Weedmaps is hosting a 4/20 livestream event, with musical performances by artists like Snoop Dogg and A$AP. There will also be a panel led by the Last Prisoner Project to discuss the need for social equity in legalization legislation.

Musicians are also taking a moment to celebrate 4/20:

Wiz Khalifa

The Flaming Lips

Advocacy organizations are also marking the cannabis occasion:

ACLU

The civil rights group is promoting its cannabis-themed products such as a marijuana stress ball.

NORML

The pro-legalization organization put out a call-to-action ahead of 4/20 to encourage supporters to hemp them “Finish the Fight” to end prohibition.

“While we have undoubtedly made immense progress in recent years, hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens are still arrested each year for simple possession of a plant,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said. “That is why we are calling on all legalization supporters to take time out of their 4/20 celebrations this year to help us finish the fight, both at the federal level and in those states that still are living under the dark ages of prohibition.”

DC Marijuana Justice (DCMJ)

On 4/20, DCMJ is organizing an event where members will give away free marijuana at COVID-19 vaccination centers across the nation’s capital.

Other organization are using the holiday for public education purposes around cannabis laws:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The federal agency is urging people not to drive while impaired, using the hashtag #420 in a tweet.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

USDA’s Risk Management Agency saw 4/20 as an opportunity to educate hemp growers about crop insurance.

Colorado Department of Transportation

The department is raising awareness about the dangers of driving while impaired by alcohol or marijuana.

MADD

MADD is also reminding people not to drive while impaired.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

TSA says it wants to “clear the smoke when it comes to traveling with medical marijuana.”

“Marijuana remains illegal federally unless it’s less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis,” it said. “This means you can’t travel with it, even if going from one legalized state to another.”

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

While not explicitly tied to 4/20, the federal agency did tweet on Tuesday a link to a blog post about the rules around adding cannabis ingredients to cosmetics.

Even prohibitionists are trying to take advantage of the occasion:

Smart Approaches to Marijuana

Smart Approaches To Marijuana’s Kevin Sabet released a book on 4/20 that attempts to lay out reasons not to pursue legalization and offers insights into the man behind the anti-reform movement.

Drug Enforcement Administration

Even the DEA wanted to join in on the 4/20 fun.

In other words: no matter where people stand on marijuana, it seems everyone has something to say about it at least once a year.

Schumer Celebrates 4/20 Marijuana Holiday On Senate Floor

Photo courtesy of Martin Alonso.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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