California TV ad steered sober on stoned driving. Now it’s been yanked off the air and removed from YouTube.
BY ED MURRIETA
SACRAMENTO — A federally funded California agency that produced a public-service advertisement depicting cannabis users as responsible people who chose not to drive under the influence of the Golden State’s newest legal intoxicant has pulled the daring commercial from television and YouTube.
California’s Office of Traffic Safety, which solicits and distributes funds from the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, released the anti-pot-driving PSA in the last week of December. The 30-second spot ran for about a week on local and cable TV stations and was posted with other anti-drugged driving PSAs on the OTS’s YouTube channel.
On Friday, the PSA stopped airing on television; OTS removed the video from YouTube. Both occurred one day after United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded guidelines recommending the Department of Justice not interfere with states’ cannabis laws.
The ad is part of the OTS’s “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze” campaign. OTS’s stated mission is to “administer traffic safety grant funds to reduce traffic deaths, injuries, and economic losses.”
Like I told a local TV producer in a Tweet:
I think it’s brilliantly reasonable. The people in the PSA introduce the message of not driving under the influence of cannabis. That speaks of responsibility and speaks to the target audience — not at them fried brains on drugs style. https://t.co/EnONIOkftR
— Ed Murrieta (@edmurrieta) January 6, 2018
Some citizens complained the PSA promoted drug use.
“The Office of Traffic Safety is committed to informing people about the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” OTS director Rhonda Craft said in a statement. “We are cognizant and share the concerns expressed over certain elements of our most recent ads. As a result, we will continue to refine and improve messaging as we move forward.”
Craft said OTS will recycle a 2016 anti-drugged-driving PSA.
On Thursday, in pursuit of a story about how the now-yanked PSA depicts cannabis users as reasonable and responsible, I contacted the person who created and produced the PSA. Coincidentally, he retired from the OTS last week.
“I’ve been getting in mild trouble with whatever government powers that be during my tenure with the state,” he messaged me via LinkedIn. “My public awareness campaign philosophy is #1- talk to your target audience, #2 – get their attention and #3 – tell the whole truth.”