Pot activists showcase billboards around Super Bowl to protest NFL ban on players using marijuana

NEW YORK, N.Y. - A Colorado pot activist is spearheading protests against the NFL's ban on players using marijuana, which features five billboards surrounding MetLife Stadium, the venue for Sunday's Super Bowl.

The billboards, paid for by the Marijuana Policy Project, protest what the group calls the "hypocrisy of the NFL's marijuana policy."

Two 60-foot-wide digital billboards feature images of football players and read: "Marijuana is less harmful to our bodies than alcohol. Why does the league punish us for making the safer choice?"

Another billboard shows the photo of an intoxicated man holding a bottle as he lies facedown on the ground, next to the image of an apparently injured football player lying on his back.

"Marijuana: Safer than alcohol…and football," the billboard declares.

The Marijuana Policy Project -- or MPP -- notes its chose "the color schemes of the ads" -- blue-and-orange for the Denver Broncos and blue-and-silver for the Seattle Seahawks -- to "reflect the teams competing in this year’s Super Bowl, both of which hail from states that have legalized marijuana for adults."

"Marijuana is less toxic, less addictive, and less harmful to the body than alcohol," said veteran Colorado pot advocate Mason Tvert, the spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project. Tvert played a key role in the campaign for Amendment 64, the ballot measure passed by Colorado voters in 2012 that legalized recreational marijuana use by adults 21 and older.

"Why would the NFL want to steer its players toward drinking and away from making the safer choice to use marijuana instead," Tvert said. "If it is okay for athletes to douse each other with champagne in front of the cameras, it should be okay for them to use marijuana privately in their homes."

Interestingly, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last week that the league would consider allowing athletes to use marijuana to treat concussions and other head injuries if medical experts deemed it a legitimate solution, according to USA Today.

Appearing with General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt to announce the first 16 winners of the $20 million "Head Health Challenge," sponsored by GE and the league, Goodell didn't stray from his recent statements on use of the drug by active players, the newspaper reported.

"I'm not a medical expert. We will obviously follow signs. We will follow medicine and if they determine this could be a proper usage in any context, we will consider that," Goodell said. "Our medical experts are not saying that right now."

Tvert, no rookie when it comes to grabbing publicity, is using the Super Bowl's global stage to pressure the powerful NFL to change with the times.

"It's time the league explain why they're punishing players just for using a substance less harmful than alcohol, particularly when those players are using it in states like Colorado, where it's now legal for adults," Tvert told 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger in in New York City Tuesday.

"The NFL has no business policing marijuana use. They're not law enforcement officials, marijuana is not a performance enhancing substance. It's time for them to just butt out and let these players make the safest choice possible," the activist added.

MPP has also launched a Change.org petition directed at Commissioner Goodell, calling on the NFL to change its marijuana policy.

MPP members plan to deliver the petition, which they say has garnered more than 12,000 signatures, to the NFL's Park Avenue headquarters in Manhattan on Wednesday morning.

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