The group behind this fall’s proposed amendment to legalize marijuana has a controversial new mascot; and opponents of the ballot issue are not amused.
ResponsibleOhio, the group pushing the amendment to legalize marijuana has a new mascot named Buddie. He looks like a cross between Oscar the Grouch and Popeye the Sailor man – a green bushy head, meant to resemble a “bud” of pot, atop a bodybuilder’s physique.
The muscular creature is traveling around the state on Responsible Ohio’s “Green Rush” RV to college campuses. And some opponents of the proposed plan, like Nick Lashutka with the Children’s Hospital Association of Ohio, don’t like it.
“It appears to be nothing but a blatant attempt to market marijuana to children and adolescents," Lashutka said. "And that’s extremely disappointing and frankly, shocking."
But Ian James with ResponsibleOhio says the only people marketing to children right now are the drug dealers his group would like to put out of business. He says Buddie is taking a message to young adult voters.
“Buddie is a gender neutral mascot that is not a he nor a she,” James said. “Buddie is a fictitious character that has a ‘21 and Up Club’. Buddie works on the college campuses to reach the millennial voters and talks to them; helps them with voter registration, both by mail, social media. It’s all geared to the folks who are 21 and up.”
But will this mascot convince college students, a traditionally difficult demographic to motivate, to vote for this issue? James says he thinks it is wrong to count them out.
“People said the same thing in 1983 when we had a vote on increasing the drinking age to 21,” James said. “That issue went down 58 to 42. We are working with the college aged students and we are also working beyond that but we are working on college campuses to make sure they see the relevance in this.”
Lashutka doesn’t buy that explanation.
“I have a family member that is recently out of college and a millennial and last time I checked, he doesn’t watch cartoons or follow superhero action figures,” Lashutka said. “I, however, have four elementary school aged children and that’s exactly what they watch and follow.”
For now, Buddie is following the campaign trail to Ohio’s college campuses, riding in ResponsibleOhio’s bright green mobile home with marijuana plants painted on the side of it, urging Ohioans to catch the green rush and vote for the issue.