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McDonald's Weed Billboard Sparks Controversy (Photo)

| by Sarah Zimmerman

A McDonald's billboard near the New Mexico-Colorado border is in the spotlight for making a joke about marijuana.

The billboard advertises the franchise's new green-chile breakfast burritos and compares rolling a burrito to rolling a joint, according to The Huffington Post.

"Usually, when you roll something this good, it's illegal!" the sign reads. Green chile is a less common slang term for weed.

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The sign is located between two states with vastly different marijuana laws. Recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, but not in New Mexico.

Corporate headquarters wasn't too impressed with the joke, however.

"This local franchise billboard does not meet our standards and is being taken down," a McDonald's representative said in a statement.

According to The Inquistr, McDonald's restaurants are franchised out to different owners, who all have some leeway in how they advertise or represent their business. They are still obliged to follow corporate rules.

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Despite corporate's response, locals don't seem to be bothered by the sign.

Melissa Grubelnik, tourism coordinator of the Raton Chamber of Commerce, told the Albuquerque Journal that she "sees the humor" in the billboard, which is located in town.

"We do not have a problem with it," she said. "We hope it encourages people to stop at our newly renovated McDonald’s."

Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012. Medical marijuana is legal in New Mexico, but possession of even a small amount of pot for recreational purposes is a misdemeanor. 

The advertising company responsible for the sign, Lamar New Mexico-El Paso, posted a picture to Facebook that was shared nearly 2,000 times.

"At the request of the owner, we put this baby up in Raton, NM. … It’s getting a lot of buzz!" read the caption.

Twitter users also found the sign amusing, with many saying that it will actually inspire them to go to McDonald's.

"This should stay UP -- because this is the first ad I've seen in years that's making me want McDonald's," one person wrote.

Another agreed: "This is the most awesome advertising, I would go there."

Marijuana business and advocacy site Cannabis Economist used the story to make a political comment.

"Of course, the irony is that what is rolled up in the illegal thing is better for your body than what's rolled up in that burrito," they wrote, in reference to popular arguments that marijuana can have medicinal benefits.

Most, however, stayed out of the thorny political debate and focused on the more humorous aspects of the sign. 

"Kudos to the franchise owner(s) for having a sense of humor. Lighten up corporate!" one person wrote.

Sources: The Huffington Post, The Inquistr, Albuquerque Journal, KRON 4/Twitter / Photo credit: KRON 4/Twitter

Should the sign have stayed up?
Yes - 83%
Yes - 17%