Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – In this context, that “green chile” in a breakfast burrito advertised by a New Mexico McDonald’s franchise could refer to something else.
Alongside a giant picture of a green chile breakfast burrito, the sign proclaimed: “Usually, when you roll something this good, it’s illegal!”
Pictures of the now-removed McDonald’s billboard on Interstate 25 near Raton that made a marijuana reference drew international attention on Twitter and on numerous U.S. news websites over the past few days.
Some marijuana advocacy groups, apparently including a Canadian NORML chapter, also got in on the fun.
The sign had a fitting location: just miles from New Mexico’s border with Colorado, where the recreational use of marijuana is legal.
Melissa Grubelnik, tourism coordinator of the Raton Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber “sees the humor” in the sign, considering the city’s proximity to Colorado.
“We do not have a problem with it,” Grubelnik said. “We hope it encourages people to stop at our newly renovated McDonald’s.”
One Facebook photo, shared by Lamar New Mexico-El Paso, the advertising company that put up the sign, was shared nearly 2,000 times.
“At the request of the owner, we put this baby up in Raton, NM. … It’s getting a lot of buzz!” the post read.
Mike Mons, general manager of the billboard company’s state office, didn’t want to comment on interpretations of the sign, but he did say he didn’t think it was “marijuana-friendly.”
The “roll your own” message was up for approximately a week before its removal Tuesday. Mons said the billboard was designed by the Raton McDonald’s owner.
A general manager at the restaurant declined to comment, and the Journal was unable to reach the McDonald’s franchise owner.
McDonald’s corporate office provided a statement saying the sign was taken down because “this local franchise’s billboard does not meet our standards.”
The logo of Bueno Foods, provider of chile products and other traditional New Mexico foods, was advertised on the McDonald’s billboard. The company did not respond for requests for comment.
Green chile is sometimes used as a slang term for pot.
Colorado legalized the sale and use of recreational marijuana in 2012.
Recreational use remains illegal in New Mexico, where possession of small amounts is a misdemeanor. But doctors are permitted to prescribe marijuana for certain medicinal purposes.