The fight over legalizing marijuana for recreational use is temporarily relocating near East Rutherford, N.J. Activists on both sides of the movement are placing billboards in the New York and New Jersey area to take advantage of the high profile of Super Bowl 48.

The Marijuana Policy Project — which played a key role in ushering in legalization in Colorado — is spending about $5,000 on five digital billboards that will have featured any of seven ads by midnight Sunday, when the run ends. Project SAM, a key opponent of marijuana legalization, is running a single ad continually in three locations through next week. The $4,500 cost was paid by Project SAM director Kevin Sabet’s private consulting company. One ad comes down Monday night, while the other two end their run on Wednesday night. Both sides tie marijuana to football, but in different ways.

The anti-legalization billboard

Project SAM’s billboard highlights the positive qualities required to play football and argues that marijuana “kills your drive.”

Super Bowl billboard opposing Marijuana legalization. (Project SAM)

The 7 pro-legalization billboards

Some of the seven pro-legalization billboards take a similar tack in comparing football to pot, but argue the opposite point. Two make the argument that marijuana is safer than beer and football.

Two call on the National Football League to end harsh penalties for marijuana use.


One compares the roughly equal numbers of marijuana arrests in 2012 to Super Bowl attendance.

And two more respond to Project SAM’s ads. One argues that alcohol leads to “overdoes deaths, violent crimes and serious injuries” while pot does “none of the above.” The other quotes the head of Project SAM, former Democratic Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy saying alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana.