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Massachusetts’ New Anti-High Driving Ads Have Arrived

They're part of a statewide campaign after marijuana legalization.

About nine months after Massachusetts voted to legalize marijuana, and with about a year to go until the state’s first recreational pot shops are slated to open, the state is rolling out a new campaign to combat high driving.

The first ad of that effort, via the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s Highway Safety Division, has arrived.

It shows a 20-something man mindlessly clicking the button on a grill, confused about why it won’t start and why his steak resting on top of it remains rare. The viewer soon learns that the man, who is stoned, is trying to light a grill without propane. The video cuts to his puzzled friends, and a woman, who seems perturbed. You baked idiot, her face says.

“Grilling high is now legal,” reads text that flashes on the screen. “Driving to get the propane you forgot isn’t.”

The campaign, which uses the slogan “Drive high? The crash is on you,” will feature  billboard, radio, and TV ads.

Some were unveiled yesterday by state police, including a picture of a half-shaven face with the caption: “Shaving high is legal. Driving is not.”

The videos that will be used are identical to ones aired in Colorado after that state legalized marijuana in 2012. And there are more where that came from, most of which blend the seriousness of the dangers posed by drugged driving with a little bit of humor. The theme: blazed domestic dunces goofing around the house, but staying home.

Humor is maybe a good approach here. Arthur Kinsman, the Region 1 administrator of the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tells the Globe the intent here is not to “demonize cannabis users.” And one can assume that the state has learned a thing or two from the widely mocked anti-Question 4 ad that infamously featured a horrified mom and her son Kevin.

Here’s what is likely coming our way. In another video ad from the Centennial State, which hasn’t been shown in Massachusetts, a man tries to set up a TV, does it incorrectly, nearly steps on a serrated knife and other sharp objects, and gets distracted by some chips and salsa. The poorly attached flatscreen clatters to the ground. “Installing your TV while high is now legal,” the ad says. “Driving to get a new one isn’t.”

Another one shows a guy playing basketball with his pals, also while blitzed. He can be seen standing at a free throw line, dribbling the ball endlessly, seemingly forgetting to shoot, while his friends look annoyed. “Playing ball high is now legal,” the text reads. “Driving to see the pros play afterward isn’t.”

There are scarier ones shared on the Colorado Department of Transportation’s YouTube channel, including one from December wherein a pair of hands rolls up a joint with a car inside—the car gets smashed up as the fingers roll.


And there is also this clever one, which focuses on how marijuana slows one’s reaction time and features a “skip ad” button that flits around the screen:


Spencer Buell Staff Writer at Boston Magazine sbuell@bostonmagazine.com