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Controversial billboards in New Haven spark conversations over marijuana

NEW HAVEN - Two billboards are at odds with each other - one notifies drivers marijuana is right up the road while another is encouraging people to seek help for addiction.

On the left side of I-91 Northbound near exit 3, one billboard from a company called Weedmaps that says "weed is legal in 60 miles" references Massachusetts.

Not far from that billboard just before exit 8 is another one from Turnbridge that says "addiction treatment is closer."

Diana Clark, a family outreach specialist for Turnbridge said she works with people every day who have a serious addiction to marijuana and does not want people to think lightly of the problem.

"I look at that and I’m like it makes it so okay. I know it’s legal but I just don’t want it so in all of our faces," said Clark.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Weedmaps said their billboard does not necessarily mean marijuana is used for negative reasons.

In a statement to FOX 61, Carl Fillicio said:

"Weedmaps is a community where people can search and discover cannabis products; become educated on all things cannabis; review cannabis businesses; and connect with other like-minded consumers. Businesses can list their services for free. And users of our site and app can register for free.

“We encourage and advocate for responsible consumption of legal, adult use cannabis. Our site includes a "learn" platform, which provides comprehensive and easy to understand information about cannabis use for both novice and connoisseur consumers.”

FOX 61 spoke to some people who said they do not see a problem with Weedmaps' billboard.

"I definitely see the benefits of it as a medical treatment and I don’t view it any differently than I view alcohol or tobacco use especially in the ways that it just like allows people to sort of relax them, disengage from their stressful life," said Quinn Nortonsmith, a freshman at Yale University.

"Studies have shown that it does help with a lot of side effects and it does have its uses and the fact that it is prescribed as a medicinal medicine," said Andrew Nguyen, a freshman at Yale.

Freshman Sophie Huttner said she understands the message from Turnbridge, but believe not all marijuana users are addicts.

"Although I will day the Turnbridge billboard might present some sort of false equivocation there because a lot of people would say that their use of weed is not equivalent to an addiction - they might be using it for medical reasons," said Huttner.

Turnbridge said they put up their billboard not too long ago and will not take it down until Weedmaps take down theirs.

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