There are bad ideas, and then there are really bad ideas.
Eating ice cream for breakfast might be a bad idea, but eating it for every meal of the day is a really bad idea. Discount bungee jumping might be a bad idea, but base jumping off a New York skyscraper is a really bad idea.
You get the idea.
Using comic book characters that target children to promote the use of alcohol, tobacco or marijuana is a bad idea. Buddie, the marijuana legalization mascot of ResponsibleOhio, is a really bad idea.
We can (and likely will) debate the merits of ResponsibleOhio’s initiative to legalize recreational marijuana, which will be voted on by the public in November. But there’s no debating that Buddie is a really, really bad idea, particularly for an industry that’s already plagued with an uphill battle and truckloads of misinformation being hauled around by opponents.
One reporter for Northeast Ohio Media Group described Buddie as “part Superman, part cannabis plant.”
Perhaps inspired by the success of box office smashes like Spiderman and The Avengers, Buddie sports the classic superhero attire: extra tight, muscle revealing white spandex, paired with green gauntlets, knee-high boots and, of course, codpiece. A Twitter account parodying the mascot (@SuperBuddie4OH) says he is the result of “genetically engineered bong water.”
He wears a blue cape and his chiseled chest bears the outline of Ohio, a marijuana leaf and the letter B. Buddie’s head is supposed to be a giant green nug with a smarmy, used car salesman’s smile, but to me it looks like a fat green booger. He travels the state in a retro-fitted bus, painted with Buddie’s blue and green color scheme and plastered with Vote Yes banners.
Who can take this seriously?
What adult thinks, “You’re right, marijuana should be legal,” after looking at this freakish representation of a comic book character? His role, thus far, has been to target college students as Responsible Ohio seems to be banking on people who want weed to be legal so much they’re willing to overlook (or not even read) the flaws in the initiative.
While promoting marijuana legalization, Buddie has become an all-too-easy target for those that cry out, “What about the children?” The comparisons to Joe Camel are dead on.
Cannabis prohibitionists have long maintained that keeping the drug illegal will keep the nation’s children safe. Those of us in the industry recognize this as a classic scare tactic, but it’s a rallying cry often heard even in more cannabis-friendly states such as Washington, Colorado and Oregon.
As you can imagine, Buddie has drawn the criticism of just about every group you would expect. He has actually united legalization proponents and opponents in their hatred of his
Theresa Daniello, a spokeswoman for Ohio Families CANN, which advocates medical marijuana, called the mascot an “extremely disturbing” attempt to promote cannabis legalization.
“You would not dress up a Percocet or Benzodiazepine or any of the other medications these children are on for their medical care,” Daniello told Cleveland.com. “How they can make light of such a serious medical condition is extremely disturbing.”
ResponsibleOhio has further trivialized its legalization efforts with T-shirts that “O-HIGH-O” across the chest. While advocates in Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska focused on the social benefits, tax revenue, business opportunities and the relatively safe nature of cannabis to support legalization, ResponsibleOhio is making a mockery of the process and the cause.
The measure itself — Issue 3 on Ohio’s November ballot — leaves plenty of room for debate. I believe marijuana legalization is a necessary step for every state in the U.S. The financial and social benefits alone should warrant the push for national decriminalization at the very least. However, the idea of altering the state constitution to allow 10 companies the exclusive right to grow marijuana is reprehensible (a similar measure regarding casinos was put before Oregon voters in 2012; it was rejected by more than 70% of voters).
While it’s hard to oppose any effort to legalize marijuana, it’s almost impossible to support ResponsibleOhio’s version of legalization.
The editorial board of The Plain Dealer and Northeast Ohio Media Group suggested IrresponsibleOhio might be a more appropriate name for the lobbying group.
The media organizations published an editorial that said ResponsibleOhio’s tactics have trivialized “what should be a serious discussion about marijuana production and use in Ohio, and about the use – and misuse – of the Ohio Constitution, which wasn’t intended to be a Physicians’ Desk Reference or a business license for aspiring, cash-craving cartels.”