“States that legalized marijuana had 25% less opioid deaths”, was what could be read on a billboard advertising WeedMaps in South Boston until local outrage forced it to be taken down.
The outrage and subsequent action are evidence of a complicated legalization process and a strong reminder that not all attitudes towards marijuana legalization are liberal.
Massachusetts, being one of the latest states to legalize marijuana use, will operate under strict restrictions of advertising products that can be seen as attractive to minors. These laws state that certain “exclusionary zones” should not have any advertisements of such products in view of places of worship, primary and secondary schools or playgrounds.
Amidst marijuana legalization, more research is coming out supporting the benefits of medical marijuana in overcoming serious drug addictions. Recently, it was revealed by the University of California San Diego that states that had legalized marijuana saw an overwhelming rate of decline in hospitalizations due to opioid and drug abuse to the tune of 23%. These “preliminary” findings as indicated by the researchers proved to be helpful in legislators seeing the possible benefits of marijuana on the war on drugs.
Others aren’t so happy about WeedMap’s choice of statistic. An executive at a Massachusetts based support organization helping families deal with addiction called the statistic outdated and problematic.
“People don’t just stop using opioids. Ever,” Executive Director Joanne Peterson at Learn to Cope Inc said, “It’s very rare that somebody can just refuse to use heroin and switch to marijuana.”
While the whole incident was instigated by a concerned citizen who expressed that WeedMap’s advertising company Clear Channel Outdoor was “insensitive” and “moronic”. She expressed that the company should have known better about exclusionary zones when it comes to marijuana advertisements.
If anything, this incident is an indicator of the importance of cannabis education and research so to be able to increase knowledge of the benefits of cannabis to treat various medical conditions and diseases, including addictions.