Arizona Billboards Rebut Opioid-Financed Anti-Marijuana Ads

Yes on 205 Reefer Madness 2.0 Billboard
This billboard appears at SW corner of 7th and Lincoln in Phoenix

A new billboard campaign calls out the opponents of Arizona’s Prop 205 for misrepresenting the effects of marijuana legalization. A press conference announcing the media campaign will be held this morning at 10am in front of the billboard in Phoenix, located just south of Chase Field on SW corner of 7th and Lincoln streets.

Yes on 205 AZ
Click here to visit the official campaign for Arizona marijuana legalization.

“We have put up this billboard to highlight two truly problematic issues related to our opponents,” said Ryan Hurley, attorney for the Yes on 205 campaign. “The first is that they are feeding misleading information to the voters of Arizona, in a manner similar to Reefer Madness propagandist from last century.”

The billboard refers to “Reefer Madness 2.0” as a description for a the online and television advertisements being aired by Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, the leading opponents of the legalization initiative on the ballot this November.

The billboard directs voters to, a site the legalization campaign has set up to debunk the false claims made by Arizona’s prohibitionists in their ads.

No on 205 AZ - Edibles
No on 205 shows edibles you can’t buy in Colorado to scare Arizonans.

“What did Denver students get?” asks one ad. “Marijuana in edibles that look like candy marketed to kids.” The video then shows edibles packaged to resemble common candy bars, with pot-pun names like “Keef Kat”, “Buddahfinger”, and “Munchy Way”. slams that ad and others using the faux candy, because “products like these are entirely illegal in Colorado.” Colorado law bans trademark ripoffs like these candies. “Prop. 205 will also prohibit such products and any sort of marketing that a reasonable person would consider to be appealing to children.”

No on 205 AZ - Schools
Opponents create a false impression by not mentioning Denver’s rejection of pot tax money.

Another ad tries deflating the appeal of Prop 205’s tax revenue forecasts for schools by claiming, “Colorado schools were promised millions in new revenues. Instead, Denver schools got nothing.”

Colorado’s legalization earmarks the first $40 million of pot tax revenue from the state’s 15 percent marijuana excise tax for the school construction fund, which was raised in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

“The ‘No on 205′ ad is misleading,” the Prop 205 campaign reveals, “because it jumps from  ’Colorado’ to ’Denver,’ and Denver schools opted not to apply for funds raised by the 15% state excise tax.” Not only did Colorado schools reap the benefits of marijuana taxation, but even Denver schools received some windfall from their share of other taxes and fees besides the excise tax.

Hurley then reveals the other problem with No on 205’s ads – their funding, which was part of a half-million dollars donated by a Phoenix-based pharmaceutical company. “[T]his anti-marijuana propaganda,” he said, “is being paid for with money donated by Insys Therapeutics, whose profits are derived almost entirely from the sale of fentanyl, one of the most deadly opioids on the market.”

Insys Therapeutics not only manufactures and sells one of the most dangerous and addictive opioid pharmaceuticals in the world, they also have designs on the synthetic cannabinoid market. SEC filings by Insys reveal the company to be concerned about the impact marijuana legalization could have on their profits. Insys has also been sued by numerous states for fraud concerning their methods of pushing their fentanyl product to patients.

Legalization opponents claim Big Marijuana harms public health, but they take money from a shady Big Pharma company that profits from a drug 50 times more powerful than heroin, in the middle of a national opioid overdose epidemic, to produce attack ads full of lies that call our side liars. Arizona’s legalization opponents will lose their fight to stop Prop 205, but they’ve already won a gold medal in hypocrisy.


Russ Belville
About Russ Belville 199 Articles
Russ Belville - or "Radical" Russ, as he is known on-air - hosts The Marijuana Agenda, a live news and talk radio program for the cannabis community, weekdays at 3pm Pacific on  The show is based in Portland, Oregon, but "Radical" Russ has traveled over 300,000 air miles in the past five years, bringing his show to report live from hundreds of cannabis conferences, marijuana expos, hemp festivals, and legalization events in over 70 North American cities.