Anti-marijuana billboards raise questions for Treasure Valley residents
- By SAVANNAH CARDON firstname.lastname@example.org Jan 12, 2019
A Keep Idaho campaign sign against legalization of marijuana is displayed near the intersection of 2nd Street South and Northside Boulevard in South Idaho.
Cars drive past a Keep Idaho campaign sign against the legalization of marijuana on 16th Avenue South in Nampa Friday night.
A Keep Idaho campaign sign against legalization of marijuana is displayed by Durobilt near the intersection of 2nd Street South and Northside Boulevard in Nampa Friday evening.
Keep Idaho is a campaign run by Boise-based nonprofit DrugFree Idaho, Inc., created to educate Idahoans about the impact legalized marijuana has had on surrounding states, especially its effect on youth, according to Rob Stevenson, executive director of DrugFree Idaho.
“People need to know that marijuana is not a harmless substance,” Stevenson said. “It affects people.”
Nearly all of Idaho’s surrounding states — Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Nevada and Montana — have legalized marijuana in some form. Recreational marijuana is now legal in 10 states across the United States, and medical marijuana is legal in 33.
“Obviously we’re surrounded by states that have normalized marijuana,” Stevenson said. “We wanted to try to get those details out about some for the consequences that have come from that.”
Keep Idaho’s website shows a number of claims about marijuana use, mostly in Colorado, and the consequences it’s had on the states. Commercials laying out the claims about marijuana in schools and driving under the influence began popping up on televisions during the 2018 election season, and the billboards were put up shortly after, Stevenson said.
There are roughly 50 billboards across the state, Stevenson estimates.
Comments criticizing the sourcing behind Keep Idaho’s claims have circulated across various forms of social media.
“I love how they’re concerned with the source, but there not concerned that the children and pets may be in harm — that’s very interesting,” Stevenson said. “Maybe they should be concerned that this is happening — even if they are for legalization, they should still be concerned.”
Keep Idaho says on their website that “marijuana-related traffic deaths when a driver was positive for marijuana more than doubled from 55 deaths in 2013 to 123 deaths in 2016,” and cites the Colorado Department of Transportation 2012-2016.
The campaign also says that “seizures of Colorado marijuana in the U.S. mail has increased 914 percent from an average of 97 pounds (2009-2013) to 984 pounds (2013-2016) in the four-year average that recreational marijuana has been legal,” citing the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Prohibited Mailing of Narcotics.
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