A lot of sports fans will be making bets on this weekend's slate of playoff games. In Pittsburgh and Denver, an ounce of weed and a couple of bottles of booze are on the line, as two chapters of NORML bet on their respective home teams - the Broncos and Steelers.
Doesn't sound like a fair bet if you're the one who gets the booze instead instead of marijuana, does it?
Patrick Nightingale of Pittsburgh told Civilized how the bet started: "Chris Chiari [of Colorado] reached out to me individually and said, 'I'm willing to put up an ounce of my finest. What are you willing to put at stake?' "
Cannabis is legal in Colorado, not in Pennsylvania
The challenge got Nightingale thinking about the absurdity of prohibition. In Colorado, you can go to a local dispensary, buy an ounce of weed and enjoy the game. But in Pittsburgh, you can't. State law still prohibits medicinal as well as recreational cannabis use, so there are no legal dispensaries.
And while Pittsburgh recently decriminalized cannabis, it's still illegal, and anyone caught with even a small amount will receive a fine and have their stash confiscated. "Here in Pennsylvania we would be committing a crime to put an ounce of weed on the line," Nightingale said.
So instead, he pitched a different way to frame the bet: "Why don't we make this a wager between our chapters and bring attention to the disparity between our markets?"
"We wanted to send something that was Pittsburgh oriented," Nightingale explained, adding that whiskey had a special place in regional history: "In the late 1700s we had the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania, where whiskey brewers revolted against the proposed tax on spirits distilled in America."
Wigle Whiskey was named in honor of the distiller who sparked the rebellion, Phillip Wigle.
"We have quite a strong strain of libertarianism going right back to the founding of the country," said Nightingale.
NORML bets it will bring attention to legalisation
And he hopes that Pennsylvanians will remember that past as the push for statewide legalization continues.
"Pennsylvania remains as backward as it always has been on the War on Drugs," says Nightingale. "It's time to end the Reefer Madness mentality and to use some common sense. We should no longer persecute individuals for using a harmless plant."
The bet is part of Nightingale's ongoing efforts to draw attention to legalization. In the past, his organization courted controversy by sporting logos that were reminiscent of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Penguins. But these media stunts were for a good cause: "If we're not bringing attention to the subject matter [of legalization], the media will lose interest," Nightingale said.