Change the Climate, a Massachusetts-based group advocating for the legalization of marijuana, is the sponsor of several controversial ads displayed in Metrorail stations across the District. The ads, free of cost because Metrorail offers complimentary spots to nonprofit organizations, are part of an effort to persuade the public and, more specifically, politicians, that legalizing marijuana would increase tax revenue and curb drug-related violence.
Jim Graham, a D.C. council member and Metro board chairman, said the advertisements are misleading and should come down. He mentioned that he supports the First Amendment, but said the advertisements should come down because they do not contain “truth in advertising.”
One ad reads, “Enjoy better sex! Legalize and tax marijuana.” While this might be a gross misnomer, it is not deceitful advertising attempting to trick the public. A recent National Institutes of Health study determined that marijuana use leads to impotence, but there are individuals who attest to the positive effects of marijuana on their sex lives. The conclusion that marijuana increases sexual satisfaction is certainly not a scientific one, but it does not warrant silencing the idea and government censorship of these ads.
The real issue behind this incident is that politicians and much of the American public are afraid to seriously reconsider the criminality of marijuana. Change the Climate would do more to focus the educated debate on the reactionary stance America takes toward marijuana by crawling before it walks – it should focus ads on decriminalization, as has happened in Canada and Great Britain, instead of legalization.
While Change the Climate’s advertisements might be misleading, the group certainly should not be censored because it is no more misleading than the recent anti-marijuana commercials that assert that using the drug is more likely to lead to teen pregnancy.