DENVER — The National Football League is on the receiving end of a blunt scolding from Colorado pot-legalization advocates, just in time for the debut of the 2013 regular season here Thursday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
A 48-foot-wide billboard erected Wednesday within a football's throw of the stadium calls on the NFL to stop punishing players for marijuana use, with the message, "Stop Driving Players to Drink! A Safer Choice is Now Legal (Here)."
Colorado is one of two states where voters legalized recreational marijuana last year for adults 21 and over. The Justice Department announced last week that it will allow the states, the other being Washington, to proceed with regulating sales and cultivation.
"For years, the NFL has been punishing players for using marijuana despite the fact that it is far less harmful than alcohol, a substance widely embraced by the league," said Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, which sponsored the sign. "The league would never punish a player simply for having a couple beers, so why does it penalize them for using a substance that is less toxic, less addictive, and less likely to contribute to violence."
Mr. Tvert, who ran the successful 2012 legalization campaign in Colorado, also said he has launched a petition at Change.org asking NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to scrap the policy.
The NFL season begins Thursday with a game between the Denver Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens. The sign may be particularly pertinent for Broncos fans: Denver all-pro linebacker Von Miller was recently suspended for six games for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.
Colorado marijuana advocates also launched Wednesday their campaign for Proposition AA, which funds the new regulations with sales and excise taxes on recreational marijuana. The statewide measure is slated to appear on the Nov. 5 ballot.
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