Several buses of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority will start promoting marijuana law reform thanks to the work of dedicated local activists. After a year long struggle, the Northcoast NORML chapter has paid for a three month advertising campaign to run on the inside and outside of RTA buses.
Northcoast NORML first approached the RTA with their advertising campaign in 1995 at which time the RTA denied the chapter's request because they claimed the public service announcements would promote the illegal use of marijuana. Northcoast NORML refused to accept the RTA's reasoning and brought the issue to the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio. After several correspondences between the ACLU and RTA's legal staff, the RTA conceded that NORML's ad was not promoting marijuana use and was political in nature.
According to Northcoast NORML president John Hartman, the chapter's billboards carry two basic messages. The announcement appearing on the tailgate of buses emphasizes the 10 million-plus marijuana arrests that have occurred since 1965 while the billboard displayed on the inside reads: "If you don't care about the people sent to prison for smoking marijuana, at least consider who gets released to make room for them." Hartman adds that the RTA will soon begin displaying prohibitionist billboards to counter Northcoast NORML's message.
Northcoast NORML's billboards began running on area buses this week. For more information, please contact John Hartman of Northcoast NORML at (216) 521-9333.