Opponents of a Massachusetts ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana in the state suffered an embarrassing stumble this week after learning that the web address they gave the secretary of state actually links to a satirical site mocking popular arguments against pot.
State election officials mailed that web address to millions of Bay State voters earlier this month in guides explaining this year's ballot.
"Medical marijuana is the gateway drug to Twinkie addiction," the home page of votenoonquestion3.org declares in bold text. A number of sarcastically titled articles are linked below, including "FACT: No Marijuana Smoker Has EVER Been Successful," which features a photo montage of a number of famous Americans who have used marijuana, including President Barack Obama.
The coalition against the ballot initiative, Question 3, made itself vulnerable to the prank by submitting a domain name to the Secretary of State's office that it hadn't actually registered.
“It’s funny and upsetting, I guess, at the same time,” Kevin Sabet, a former Obama administration adviser on drug policy and a spokesman for the No on Question 3 committee, told the Boston Globe.
In a press release, the group accused proponents of medical marijuana of tampering with the democratic process through “underhanded efforts,” but organizers admitted that they'd made a mistake.
“We ended up registering a site under a different name, neglecting to tell the Secretary of State’s office. But as a result of other people buying up the site and making a spoof out of it, people will be misled,” Lisa Barstow, a spokesperson for the group told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Scott Gacek of Boston, an advocate of marijuana policy reform, is the man behind the parody website.
“This shows how disorganized they are that they don’t even register a website," Gacek told the State House News Service, according to BostInno. "You would think you would try to make sure that website was accurate, and buy the domain.”
He claimed his move to snatch up the website Question 3's opponents had intended to use wasn't deliberate, but said he was happy to "poke fun at the arguments that are typically brought up" now that he had control of it.
Question 3 opponents have since registered a new domain, mavotenoonquestion3.com, which now appears on the state's online voter guide, if not in the guides sent to the homes of Massachusetts residents.