Drug prevention charities have reacted with exasperation after an anti-medical marijuana group claimed cannabis cookies can lead to rape.
Opponents of a proposed constitutional amendment to legalise medical marijuana to help people with seizure disorders and diseases in Florida posted an advert on Facebook asking: “Will the face of date rape look like a cookie?”
The much-ridiculed advert features a man and woman facing a picnic table holding a plate of chocolate chip cookies. A large, white arrow points to the man's back pocket, where lurks, through some dodgy Photoshop, a packet labeled "Marijuana Cookies."
Edward Fox, of the UK's leading drug law charity Release, told the Huffington Post UK he initially thought the ad "was a piece by The Onion", or just "someone messing around with photoshop."
"It is both incredibly offensive and thoughtless," he told HuffPost UK.
He added that the advert shows the "ridiculous lengths" that the anti-reform movement in Florida is willing to go.
"Their apparent modus operandi is to induce fear based on unsubstantiated nonsense because they know that they are without a leg to stand on in opposing this amendment. This is scaremongering at its lowest," he said.
The advert has also received a hefty amount of ridicule on social media:
@saynoamendment2 I don't think they understand how pot works.— Steven Pryor (@Steve__Pryor) August 9, 2014
@saynoamendment2 you sad pandering lobbyist hacks— Brad Seldin, Esq. (@BSeldin) August 9, 2014
@saynoamendment2 making shit up gives u no credence. U are supporting pain and suffering in children not helping. u have no experience fools— Healing Of Da Nation (@saltychad) August 9, 2014
@saynoamendment2 You should be embarrassed putting out bullshit like this.— RTShark (@RTShark) August 11, 2014
“I absolutely thought it was fake. I thought it was a joke,” Florida state Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) told WPTV.
“I think any woman should find that offensive to somehow suggest that if you use medical marijuana to deal with a health issue that you’re trying to deal with that somehow that’s going to make you more susceptible to rape," he added. "It’s really beyond the pale.”
"I think it's just extraordinarily insensitive to everybody," said Ben Pollara, the campaign manager for United For Care, the group behind Amendment 2. "I was dumbfounded when I saw it."
"The only thing that's offensive is Amendment 2," countered No On 2 spokesman Javi Correoso in an interview with news channel WPBF.
As for the claim itself? According to Dr. Jorge Bordenave, a cardiologist at South Miami's Larkin Community Hospital who supports medical marijuana, the date rape suggestion is unfounded.
"Right now, as we know, you can get pot anywhere, on the corners, kids get pot,” Bordenave told NBCMiami. "There has been no incidents of date rape with the pot [young people] are smoking currently. So what they are saying is trying to scare the people; trying to lie to the people."
Amendment 2 would legalize marijuana use for those prescribed it by a doctor to treat a "debilitating medical condition," which the measure defines as the likes of cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis, among others.
The amendment would not authorize recreational use, possession or the production of marijuana. However, that hasn't stopped opponents from suggesting otherwise.
"Let's keep our children safe," reads another No On 2 Facebook post, while another claims lollipops with THC -- the compound in cannibis that produces a high -- will be available "everywhere. (Just imagine the danger this will be for small children.)"
The anti-medical marijuana group Drug Free Florida Committee, which funds No On 2, is run by Carlton Turner, the Reagan-era director of drug abuse policy who has claimed marijuana leads to homosexuality and AIDS, the Broward/Palm Beach New Times reports.
A poll last month showed a whopping 88 percent of Floridians support medical marijuana, suggesting Amendment 2 may get the required 60 percent of the vote necessary to pass in November.