I try to keep an open mind about things. I think that anyone who has ever met me will vouch for that claim, and will say that I’m an even-keeled, reasonable person who is open to new ideas (I don’t always participate, but at least I’m willing to listen). But something happened today that I just can’t understand. I have tried to approach the idea from every angle, and I still can’t arrive at how this came about. The ResponsibleOhio campaign has been using a mascot to promote its campaign. I think activist Sam Tracy described it best when he tweeted ’This is pretty much Duffman, for marijuana.’ Per Cleveland.Com:
Pro-marijuana group ResponsibleOhio introduced its new mascot to supporters this week, but its chosen face of marijuana legalization hasn’t been a hit with everyone.
Part Superman, part cannabis plant, “Buddie” has a green marijuana bud for a head, sports six-pack abs and wears a cape. On his chest: The letter B over a cannabis leaf and the state of Ohio.
ResponsibleOhio posted photos of the mascot to Facebook. Followers drew instant comparisons between Buddie and Joe Camel, the cigarette mascot that was retired to settle a lawsuit alleging R.J. Reynolds used the cartoon character to market to children.
Nick Lashutka, president of the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, said he’s shocked that ResponsibleOhio appears to be marketing marijuana to kids before voters even see it on the ballot. Lashutka said it’s disappointing the group would choose a superhero character to represent a substance that has proven to be dangerous for children.
I don’t know who made the decision to use ‘Buddie the marijuana mascot’ but I have to assume that they are looking back on that decision right now and hopefully realizing what a bad idea it was. This mascot fiasco has given Kevin Sabet something to talk about for the next millennium. The ResponsibleOhio campaign has enough bad press and skeptics to deal with, but shooting themselves in the foot with what I personally think is the worst idea in the history of marijuana politics is mind boggling to me.
Mascots are a gimmick. Marijuana legalization campaigns don’t need gimmicks. Marijuana campaigns need to focus on the issues, and to provide easy-to-obtain facts that prove that cannabis prohibition is a failure, and that a taxed and regulated system is a much better option. I don’t think that the system should involve a ten-opoly on marijuana cultivation for profit, but if that’s what it takes to end marijuana prohibition (up to Ohio voters to decide, I’m not an Ohio voter), then I’m open to a debate about that provision. Explaining why marijuana prohibition has failed is easy to do when someone is armed with the applicable knowledge and facts. They don’t need some poor person in a costume to convince voters. This is politics, not drive-thru pizza sales.