Super Bowl Sunday: Are Marijuana Ads Far Behind?
With retail sales underway in Colorado, many are following the inevitable commercialization, or even “Marlborolization,” of marijuana. This week marked the pinnacle of commercials – the Super Bowl. With an impressionable audience of roughly 100 million and including America’s biggest consumer base – parents and families – it’s interesting that the opposing teams represent the only states in the nation that have legalized marijuana.
What we at The Partnership at Drugfree.org see is the potential for super-sized marketing of a new, legal drug – the creation of a powerful marijuana brand, and one ripe for advertising.
Late night television hosts have already lampooned the interchangeability of beer and pot advertising. The numbers of young eyeballs exposed to beer commercials are sure to swell on Sunday as teams from Colorado and Washington go head to head. Could marijuana ads be far behind?
In the complicated trickle down of legalization, many are talking about this hot-button issue, but few are talking with parents or considering how this affects their kids.
Our recent research reports that roughly 50 percent of all parents have used marijuana (62 percent for Colorado parents) and that 40 percent of adults believe marijuana should be legal. However, parents have serious expectations that legal marijuana will be heavily regulated to protect kids.
More than 80 percent of parents surveyed in Colorado and Washington believe “marijuana advertising should still be banned.” When forced to choose, a majority of parents identify the number one place where it should be permissible to advertise marijuana as “nowhere.” But those expectations from parents far exceed how legal marijuana is actually being implemented.
While there’s an urgency to discuss taxes and sales, there’s also a contradictory “we’ll think about it tomorrow” attitude on how to go about educating parents and kids. Our past experiences with alcohol and tobacco regulation suggest we’re destined to fail at banning the commercialization of a legal industry, contradicting parents’ desires to protect their kids from such ads.
So let’s talk with parents and families about the risks of kids using marijuana and help guide them to have effective conversations with their kids about why marijuana is not a good choice – even if mom or dad used it when they were teenagers.
We don’t have all of the answers, but we do know from our telephone helpline and website that parents want guidance on how to navigate this new, legalized landscape. We know the right words to start that conversation with kids about making the choice not to use drugs in adolescence.
As I watched the game with my kids, I was reminded of the inherent power of persuasive messages. Messages that help form personal opinion ultimately drive individual behavior. And the most important messengers – the most powerful influencers – in the lives of kids are their parents.
The time is now to start talking about marijuana at home before our kids get the wrong message somewhere else.