Forces of evil and memory of where you put your keys beware, there’s a new superhero in town to dramatically overlook the streets of Ohio. The “superhero” in question is Buddie, a mascot with a bud of cannabis for a head, being used to promote the legalization of marijuana leading up to the November election. Established by the legalization advocacy group, ResponsibleOhio, Buddie has been traveling to different campuses around the state in order to promote voting yes on Issue Three, which would grant the legal use of marijuana for anyone above the age of 21, as well as its use for medical purposes through the Marijuana Legalization Amendment.
Buddie is doing little to steady the waters of this already controversial debate, calling into question what his intended demographic truly is. Opponents of legalization claim that the choice to use a superhero to promote the drug is “irresponsible,” comparing his cartoonish aesthetic to the former cigarette mascot Joe Camel, often criticized for being used to appeal to children. Is the use of a superhero for a mascot as irresponsible as the opposition of legalization make it out to be? Though this argument is valid, and I of course agree that kids should stay in school and away from drugs, it hardly seems fair to call out this aspect of their campaign as something malicious. Don’t get me wrong, a smirking bud of pot with tights and a cape is laughably ridiculous, but its intended audience seems very clear.
For one, this mascot is being used in order to appeal to people on a state-wide level to vote, rather than being used as a marketing campaign to sell the product. This distinction is an important one that is being drastically overlooked. Buddie isn’t being used in commercials between “Rugrats” and “Jimmy Neutron,” but rather walking around campuses to attract the attention of humans with the actual legal ability to vote.
The double standard here is the general promotion of alcohol, which of course is also a recreational drug illegal to anyone under 21. Not only are advertisements for alcohol everywhere, readily accessible to anything with eyes and ears, they’re more often than not portraying alcohol in a fun, lax manner. Notto mention their variety of kid friendly features, including but not limited to a variety of fun flavors and pirates.
Alcohol and marijuana are entirely two different entities in their own right, but their analogous aspects reveal a troubling insight into the mentality of those opposing the legalization of the latter. Wouldn’t the best solution for parents to prevent their kids from smoking legalized marijuana be the same as their solution to prevent their kids from drinking alcohol? Smoking cigarettes? Medicinal and economic benefits aside, I would think marijuana would be less threatening to parents than alcohol. A bad night with alcohol could lead to a life-threatening, potentially relationship- crippling mess. A bad night with marijuana is passing out before the B-side of “Dark Side of the Moon.”
If legalized, marijuana should be treated in the same regard as every other legal substance available to the public. Once they reach a certain age — encouraged in moderation and clear about potential health risks. Buddie is an absurd concept, but his intentions are grounded in a group with positive, wellgrounded intentions. Until Disney buys the rights to his intellectual property for an animated series to promote Buddie brand marijuana cigarettes, parents have nothing to fear.