The advertising wars for and against legalizing marijuana have started airing in states throughout the country. Recently we’ve seen Arizona’s Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol release an ad where school teachers have made their endorsement of Prop 205 known – and Florida’s Yes on 2 campaign has been seeing ads from the opposition – with ads from United for Care just starting to air. Now, Massachusetts is seeing the same sort of scenario play out; the opposition demonizes everything about legalization, while outright lying about what passing Question 4 would mean – meanwhile the Yes on 4 campaign is working hard to put out ads that tell the truth about what they are trying to do.
Over the last couple of weeks the Yes on 4 campaign has released two TV ads – the first featuring a retired police officer, who goes over many of the benefits and regulations of marijuana legalization, including childproof packaging, a ban on advertising to anyone under 21 years old and the tax revenue, which will be spent on schools and law enforcement. Their second ad features a medical internist, who points out flaws in the state’s current medical marijuana laws that keep many physicians from bringing up marijuana as an alternative, suggesting that legalizing and regulating marijuana will give more people the chance to stay away from opiates by offering a legal and natural alternative.
The ad by the No on 4 campaign was released overnight on Tuesday on YouTube and quickly gained views – and it depicts the worst fears of opponents to legalized marijuana. The video titled “Neighborhoods” features a mother and daughter driving through a town that now has dispensaries with names like “Weed World” every few buildings – including next to the toy store they are headed into. The sweets in the window of this dispensary catch her daughter’s eye and she grabs her daughter away from the window, and just then her son (who doesn’t appear to be 21) walks out munching on something and carrying a bong.
The ad also cites statistics in a similar manner to the No on 2 campaign in Florida – with things like there will be “more pot shops than Starbucks and McDonalds combined” and using skewed statistics relating to “marijuana-related” traffic deaths. Of course, the No on 4 campaign is also claiming that the ads released by the Yes on 4 campaign are entirely built on lies – so anyone who opposes legalization and has not read the initiative could easily be swayed into thinking that this would be their reality if the initiative passes.
“This ad has about as much connection to reality as a Donald Trump campaign speech, which should come as no surprise since it’s funded by a Trump endorser and made by a Trump ad firm. Our initiative gives complete control to towns to limit or prohibit marijuana establishments, and studies from other states show no increase in crashes or fatalities due to marijuana impairment. The question before Massachusetts voters is whether to allow criminals to continue to control the market or to shift commerce to licensed, taxpaying businesses under the control of state regulators and local authorities. We think voters will base their decision on facts, not on smear-and-fear tactics.” – Jim Borghesani, Yes on 4 Spokesman
Honestly, I think Jim Borghesani pretty much summed things up – if people would just take the time to read the initiative before voting on it, then they would realize there are a lot of fail-safes in place that will prevent children and teens from accessing cannabis (far more than we have now, actually). It’s just a matter of ensuring that the voters are educated in what they are voting for – and not what people want them to think they’re voting for.
If you know someone who is against legalization – especially in a state like Massachusetts or any of the others that will be voting on legalization this November – do your part to ensure they are educated on what these measures will really do, before misleading ads like one released by No on 4 can do the damage they are trying to do.