Spectators streaming into the NASCAR Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway starting on Friday might notice something a little different about one of the advertisements on screens nearby. The 30-second spot, seen above, might look and sound a lot like a typical beer ad, but it’s actually promoting an alternative: legal marijuana.
The ad, titled “New Beer,” is from the Marijuana Policy Project — the nation’s largest pro-marijuana legalization advocacy group — and will air dozens of times beginning Friday. It marks the first time a pro-pot ad has been shown at a major sporting event, though technically it is being shown outside the stadium’s grounds.
The spot notes that marijuana is different from beer, which will likely be flowing generously at the weekend NASCAR race, frequently regarded as one of the year’s biggest. Pot has no calories, does not cause hangovers and does not contribute to violent or reckless behavior, the ad says. It concludes with the tagline, “Marijuana: Less harmful than alcohol and time to treat it that way,” which is laid over stock footage of some people who look like they’re high and happy on a beach.
“Our goal is to make this weekend’s event as educational as it will be enjoyable,” Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “We simply want those adults who will be enjoying a beer or two to think about the fact that marijuana is an objectively less harmful product.”
Marijuana is not legal in Indiana, for medical or recreational use, and punishments governing the substance are quite strict. In fact, marijuana has only been legalized for recreational use in two states, Colorado and Washington. But Tvert says the ad is designed to educate and encourage people to get behind the wider legalization movement.
“Marijuana is less toxic and less addictive than alcohol, and it is far less likely to contribute to violent and reckless behavior,” he said. “We hope racing fans who support marijuana prohibition will question the logic of punishing adults simply for using a product that is safer than those produced by sponsors of NASCAR events and teams that race in them.”
USA Today reports that upwards of 600,000 fans may attend the race, 225,000 of them whom can be packed into stadium seating. Tvert told USA Today that the ad was purchased for a “non-profit” rate of $2,200 and made on a $350 budget.