SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A state campaign to stop drugged driving was pulled off the air after critics complained it crossed the line. The ad started running just days before the sale of marijuana became legal in California, and there’s concern that it helped promote the use of pot.
The commercial was part of the state’s “DUI doesn’t just mean booze” campaign. It clearly points out that it’s dangerous to drive high, but also highlights the said benefits of using pot. It’s a message critics say they’re surprised the state would promote.
A campaign to keep stoned drivers off our streets goes up in smoke. After just days of broadcasting across the state, the public service announcement was pulled off the air, as backlash began brewing.
“We’re appalled,” said Carla Lowe, with the political action committee Citizens Against the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana.
The ad, which was part of a push to stop drugged driving by the California Office of Traffic Safety, begins with people saying why they smoke marijuana. One says it helps with his anxiety, and another, who appears to be a cancer patient, says it helps with her appetite. The video ends with the same people also saying they’d never drive high.
Critics say they understand the latter message but say the first half of the PSA promotes and normalizes pot use. One man’s reason for using marijuana is because he likes it, while another says he loves it. One woman says it makes her feel normal.
“Why do they talk about all of the good that it does? It’s nothing more than a mixed message,” said Lowe.
It’s an increasing challenge for law enforcement. Now that the sale of pot is legal, they say awareness about the dangers of driving high is crucial.
Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Sgt. Shaun Hampton said, “It is something that is necessary and we believe that it is important to get impaired drivers off the road, to keep our roads safe.”
The video was taken off the air by the office of traffic safety, which explained it’s decision in a statement saying in part it is “…committed to informing people about the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. We are cognizant and share the concerns expressed over certain elements of our most recent ads. As a result, we will continue to refine and improve messaging as we move forward.”
Officials with the Office of Traffic Safety went on to say they will now use an ad that was produced last year as part of its “drugged driving” campaign. They say the point is still the same, drive high and you can get a DUI.