Lujan's marijuana-ad bill puts youth at risk - Albuquerque Journal

Lujan’s marijuana-ad bill puts youth at risk

In a nod to the Mad Men of Marijuana, Sen. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., recently introduced the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Advertising Act, a bill that would allow New York’s Madison Ave advertisers to promote weed on television and radio stations. This legislation would not only normalize marijuana, but also would certainly increase rates of youth use.

While the SAFE Advertising Act purports to prohibit the advertising of marijuana to individuals younger than 21, in reality, pro-marijuana messages on TV and radio stations will inevitably reach youth. Despite restrictions against marijuana advertisements being targeted to youth in “legal” states, a study found “94% of adolescents surveyed said they had been exposed to marijuana marketing either on social media, print media or on a billboard.” Youth who saw advertisements on Instagram were 129% more likely to have used marijuana in the past year. If passed, the SAFE Advertising Act will result in more youth exposed to favorable depictions of marijuana, associated with increased rates of use.

Similarly, other research has “confirmed what common sense suggests: The more exposure young people have to marijuana advertising, the more likely they are to use the drug and have positive views about it.”

The SAFE Advertising Act’s provisions essentially allow Big Tobacco’s Joe Camel back on TV, this time for marijuana. They are weak, even compared to the safeguards adopted in other states that have legalized marijuana. Connecticut and New York allow marijuana advertisements to be shown only to audiences where 90% of the members are older than 21, but the SAFE Advertising Act proposed a lower limit of 70%. That threshold is also below the limits adopted in Massachusetts and California, and the industry standard for alcohol advertisements.

Other states, including New Mexico, prohibit marijuana TV and radio ads altogether. (New Mexico does allow ads on radio/TV subscription services that cater to an over-21 audience.) While Luján serves as chair of the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, it is unclear why he would introduce legislation in direct opposition to the will of the people of New Mexico.

Luján has stated broadcasters should be allowed to advertise “safe, legal cannabis products on their programs.” Instead of regurgitating Big Marijuana’s talking points, he should listen to the science. The CDC unequivocally says, “although marijuana is legal in some states … this does not mean it is safe.” In 2021, nearly 800,000 individuals went to the emergency department for a marijuana-related reason — if passed, this bill will surely increase this number.

Recognizing “substance use disorder continues to destroy lives,” Luján committed to “fight for expanded prevention services, high-quality treatment opportunities and robust recovery programs.” … While these efforts are commendable, it is contradictory to introduce legislation that will normalize marijuana and increase usage rates. Studies show three in 10 marijuana users will develop a cannabis use disorder, known as addiction, and a study found marijuana users were 2.6 times more likely to misuse nonprescription opioids.

The SAFE Advertising Act is anything but safe. Luján should withdraw this legislation and heed the wisdom of N.M.’s laws.

Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » Lujan’s marijuana-ad bill puts youth at risk


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