Washington, DC: The White House Drug Czar’s office is spending more than $4 million dollars to air a pair of anti-drug public service announcements (PSAs) during Sunday’s Super Bowl broadcast, according to reports published in AdAge this week. Two additional ads will air during ABC’s pre-game show.
At least two of the four ads will focus solely on marijuana. They are the latest in a series of ads funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) linking recreational pot use to various negative outcomes – including one PSA that portrays a teen accidentally shooting his friend while “high” on marijuana. This coming Sunday’s ads will focus on a couple who discovers that their daughter has had unprotected sex after using marijuana, as well as a young man grieving for a friend killed in a car accident. The ad implies that the accident was caused by a driver who was under the influence of pot.
A 30-second spot on this year’s Super Bowl broadcast costs approximately $2.2 million dollars.
The Drug Czar’s office spent approximately $3.4 million during last year’s Super Bowl broadcast to debut a pair of PSAs alleging that recreational drug use funds terrorism. Since then, the bulk of the ONDCP’s ads have focused specifically on marijuana. A review of the ad campaign commissioned by the White House and published last year found that teens were more likely to experiment with pot after viewing the PSAs.
NORML Executive Director Keith Stroup called the federal ad buys a “colossal waste of taxpayer’s dollars,” and noted that the government loses credibility by airing PSAs demonizing marijuana. “NORML believes there is nothing to be gained by exaggerating marijuana’s harmfulness,” Stroup said. “On the contrary, by overstating marijuana’s potential harm, our policy-makers and law enforcement community undermine their credibility, and their ability to effectively educate the public of the legitimate harms associated with more dangerous drugs.”
Stroup added: “Federal officials ought to take a page from their more successful public health campaigns discouraging teen pregnancy, drunk driving, and adolescent tobacco smoking – all of which have been significantly reduced in recent years. America has not achieved these results by banning the use of alcohol or tobacco, or by targeting and arresting adults who engage in these behaviors responsibly, but through honest, fact-based public education campaigns. There is no reason why these same common sense principles and strategies should not apply to marijuana and responsible adult marijuana use.”