Marijuana legalization teams working in Ohio have a new superhero — literally. RepsonsibleOhio has sent Buddie, the costumed crusader with a heady nug for a head to college campuses to stump for a new state constitutional amendment on November’s ballot to legalize pot for both medical and recreational use. But Buddie’s controversial: Many people, on both sides of the issue, see Buddie as a cartoon mascot designed to appeal to kids.
ResponsibleOhio, however, says that Buddie wasn’t designed to appeal to children. Buddie only goes to college campuses, speaks only to people of voting age and doesn’t appear on any billboards, t-shirts or other places where children would be likely to see him. In fact, the campaign he’s a part of is called “Buddie’s 21 & Up Club” (The voting age is 18, but, like drinking, marijuana in Ohio would be limited to those 21 and over) and it’s targeting millennials.
Still, others aren’t so sure. The anti-legalization Ohio Children’s Hospital Association finds Buddie an attempt to pander to children. In a press release, Melissa Wervey Arnold, CEO of the Ohio chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (Ohio AAP), says “Using this kind of mascot to forward an agenda for a product that has proven to be dangerous for children to consume is simply appalling.” Similar complaints killed Camel Cigarettes’ character Joe Camel, a cartoon camel designed to be the paragon of cool; after 10 years of use, the mascot was killed in 1997.
Some legalization proponents are not Buddie’s friends either. A Twitter hashtag campaign has sprung up, #NoMarijuanaMascots, led by Sam Tracy of 4Front Ventures, a company devoted to defeating marijuana prohibition and putting a professional face on recreational retail. The hashtag has taken off around the country.
— Matt Allen (@mistermattallen) September 3, 2015
— Tyler Williams (@tylerwilliamsct) September 3, 2015
— New Paltz SSDP (@NewPaltzSSDP) September 3, 2015
Ohio currently does not allow medical marijuana; should the proposed amendment pass, the state will go from prohibition directly to legalization. The four states where marijuana is now fully legal (Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Colorado) all previously had medical marijuana systems in place. Ohio has decriminalized possession, however sale, transportation and cultivation are all illegal.
Featured image via ResponsibleOhio.