PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - The group pushing to legalize the use of marijuana in Portland has begun a new advertising campaign and it is already stirring up controversy.
The pro pot ads are now appearing on city Metro buses and at bus stops. That has substance abuse prevention groups crying foul. Leaders of those groups say the ads would not upset them if they simply urged people to vote one way or another on Question 1, the measure that would legalize marijuana in Portland. Instead they say they promote the use of marijuana.
You can now see the ads on four Metro Busses around the city and at two bus stops. The ads read marijuana is less toxic than alcohol and does not leave you with a hangover. They urge people to vote yes on Question 1.
Backers of Question 1 say they are political ads that simply try to get their message out to voters.
"What we are doing with these ads is highlighting the fact that marijuana is safer than alcohol", said David Boyer of the Marijuana Policy Project.
Directors of 21 Reasons, a coalition fighting against teenage substance-abuse, say it's a wrong message to send to young people. Many are riders on the Metro bus system.
"It's highly inappropriate to be promoting Pro Marijuana message in a place that has a large audience of people under the age of 21", Said Kate Perkins of 21 Reasons.
Metro prohibits advertisements promoting alcohol and tobacco. Officials at Metro say they have reviewed their policy and the ads fall in line with political advertisements. They say if another group wanted to run an ad urging people to vote no on question one and highlighted the adverse effects of marijuana, they would also run those ads.