Dueling billboards for legal weed and addiction treatment go up on Connecticut highway

Feb 15, 2019

Connecticut commuters are facing a battle of ideologies every time they travel down Interstate 91 in New Haven. On the left side of northbound I-91, Weedmaps’ billboard, which exclaims “Weed is legal in 60 miles,” created quite a stir when it went up in January. Weedmaps is an app that connects people with the locations of medical and recreational marijuana providers. The billboard referred to legal weed in Massachusetts, one state over. Now, however, it’s got some competition. Turnbridge, a residential drug abuse treatment program, has placed a billboard about a mile up the highway that says “Addiction Treatment is Closer,” referring to their main offices in New Haven.

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The Connecticut Post interviewed a family outreach specialist, Diana Clark, for Turnbridge who expressed concerns about the use of marijuana and wished to counter the message of the Weedmaps billboard.

Although Clark admitted that marijuana isn’t addictive in the same way opioids or other drugs are, she felt it was a public health concern. “What we know about billboards for alcohol [is] the approval rates for teen use goes up. … So if we draw a natural extension, I’m worried about the legalization leading to younger and younger use,” she said.

She also said she had seen the negative effects of marijuana on youth in her own treatment center while emphasizing old stereotypes about marijuana dependence and abuse. “As a treatment center that treats young adults and teenagers, we have a significant number of kids whose lives have been derailed by marijuana, without other substances,” Clark said, explaining that heavy users “quit going to school, quit getting up in the morning, quit after-school activities. Their sole purpose seems to be getting, using and staying high on marijuana.”

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A spokesperson for Weedmaps, Carl Fillichio, responded to a request for comment by saying “We encourage and advocate for responsible consumption of legal, adult use cannabis. Our site includes a comprehensive and easy to understand educational section ... which provides important information for both novice and connoisseur consumers.”

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