Colorado drug reform activists said Tuesday that they’re launching the first television ad in support of the state’s ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol, set to air repeatedly in Colorado media markets on CNN and MSNBC during this year’s Democratic National Convention.
The 30-second spot, titled “It’s Time,” puts a spotlight President Barack Obama’s well-known love of beer, and what they called President Richard Nixon’s “false” reasons for launching the drug war in the first place. “We’re not looking to end beer summits at the White House or change the way people behave on the campaign trail,” the ad says, showing photos of Obama enjoying cold mugs of beer. “We just believe adults, in the privacy of their homes, should be allowed to use marijuana instead of alcohol if that’s what they prefer.”
“The goal of this ad is to encourage thoughtful viewers to contemplate the differing ways in which we as a nation treat marijuana and alcohol consumers,” a spokesperson for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol said in a media advisory. “We want voters asking themselves why it is okay for our nation’s political leaders to publicly use alcohol as a way to connect with voters, but it is a crime for adults to use marijuana – an objectively less harmful substance – in the privacy of their homes.”
Obama himself, along with Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, admits to trying marijuana as a youthful indiscretion, although he’s consistently opposed calls to legalize the drug, cited by law enforcement as the most commonly used illicit substance in the U.S. Obama has, however, expressed limited support for decriminalization schemes, and pressed for softer penalties for first-time offenders caught with small quantities of the drug. The president’s national drug control budgetary outlays have also placed greater emphasis on treating drug addiction as a medical problem, rather than a criminal one, although Obama’s attorneys have been even more ardent about prosecuting state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries than any prior administration.
While drug reform has not been articulated in the campaign’s public statements, the president’s reelection team released an ad this week basically asking for marijuana users’ votes by featuring the stars of the “Harold & Kumar” films, known for their marijuana-centered humor. In the video, both actors are sitting in front of a TV and a half-eaten pizza, laughing at cartoons after the president calls to ask actor Kal Penn to host a DNC webcast. Penn campaigned for Obama in 2008 and worked for the administration, and he’s scheduled to speak at the DNC on Tuesday.
Colorado’s ballot initiative, one of three being voted upon this November, enjoys popular support according to an August survey (PDF) by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling group. In all, 46 percent of survey respondents said they favored regulating marijuana and collecting taxes on sales, versus just 38 percent saying they’re opposed.
Nationwide, more Americans favor marijuana legalization today than ever before, according to survey data by Gallup. The polling firm found last year that 50 percent of Americans think the drug should be legalized, versus 46 percent who want to maintain the nation’s prohibitionist policy.