Anti-Marijuana Billboard Taken Down After Racism Accusations

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It seems like it is really very difficult to make an anti-drug ad. Convincing kids not to do drugs is extremely important, but it seems like it’s never actually done well. The famous “this is your brain on drugs” commercial was pretty good, comparatively speaking, and it still got parodied into the ground. Now, however, a Washington anti-marijuana billboard has sparked a backlash after viewers looked at it and said, “WTF, that is racist!”

According to Refinery29, the anti-marijuana billboard in Yakima, Washington, was discovered by journalist Mike Faulk, who posted it to Twitter. It has a picture of smiling teenagers and it says, “We don’t need pot to have fun. We’re Hispanics … we’re cool by default.”

The ad did not sit well with a lot of viewers, who accused it of racial stereotyping.


A lot of people were very confused. How did this ad get approved and paid for by the Washington state health department?

The ad is clearly an attempt to be cool, but it’s one of those things where adults try to sound “hip” and “with it.” In the end, it just sounds lame.

On top of that, it’s a pretty unconvincing argument for why kids shouldn’t smoke marijuana. Does anyone really start smoking marijuana because they think they “need” it to be cool? The ad feels corny and dated and deeply out of touch.

Hell, what if you’re a hispanic kid who isn’t cool? Now this ad makes you feel like even more of an outsider.

The billboard is coming down after the backlash.

The Washington Health Department says it will be taking the billboard down after the backlash on social media, where people were calling it “bizarre” and “offensive,” and just plain lame.

“We are new in learning how to reach youth,” said spokeswoman Julie Graham.

Graham said a group of about 60 young people came up with the ad. There’s a reason kids aren’t ad executives. (The Montana Meth Project famously had kids design anti-drug posters and wound up with a truly bizarre billboard featuring Elsa from Frozen as a meth-user.) Maybe some of the grown-ups in the room should have looked at the ad and thought, “What would I have thought of this ad when I was a teenager?” It’s tough to imagine anybody seeing this and thinking, “Oh, well now I definitely don’t want to smoke pot.

What do you think of this anti-marijuana billboard? Let us know in the comments.

(Image: Twitter / @Mike_Faulk)