A new ad released by the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative (CCHI), in an attempt to raise awareness for legalization legislation in California, unwittingly serves as a great argument for keeping recreational cannabis illegal, and perhaps even making the penalties facing those caught in possession of this controlled substance even more severe.
Ok, perhaps an exaggeration, but watch the ad for yourself and marvel at the terrible music, the cheap effects; see if you can find a solid argument amidst the plumes of smoke and dilated pupils.
While there are a few mentions of how the legislation the CCHI is supporting would have financial benefits for the state of California, the emphasis is mostly on the hypothetical joys of taking bong rips in an oceanfront hash bar. Getting non-violent offenders out of prison is only mentioned in passing. The possibility of carrying up to 12 pounds of marijuana for personal use, no questions asked, is spoken of with the kind of anticipatory awe usually reserved for military spouses waiting at a bus depot to be reunited with long-deployed loved ones.
The advertisement alternates footage of CCHI members spouting off enthusiastically and blowing smoke into the camera with inserts of different marijuana strains that would presumably be available in the hash bars they’re promoting. The last 40 seconds of the four-minute ad repeat a lot of this and then it lingers on a small dog named Dabby running around a wooden picnic table. The CCHI claims to have raised over $200,000, and one can only imagine the rage that any investor who saw so much as a nickel of his money go into this advertisement must feel.
The problem, obviously, is that the CCHI is rambling at the choir. The only people who could possibly see this ad as anything other than an embarrassing oddity are people who are already on board, and that’s not how change comes about.
Look at this ad released by The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska.
This ad featured the former deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Corrections soberly talking about the kinds of things that on-the-fence voters actually care about—resources, income, the human cost of incarceration.
Sure, there’s no awesome footage of the sun going down over the pacific or a dog frolicking, no complicated dab rig or curses at the viewer, and no catchy campaign name, but recreational marijuana is now actually legal in Alaska. What the CCHI is missing is that you’ll never get any legalization legislation passed by stressing how much fun smoking pot is, you need to sober up and focus on the boring stuff. You need to find a way, like the Alaskan campaign did, to appeal to people who wouldn’t be caught dead in a hash bar, regardless of the legality.
Recreational legalization in California was rejected 53.5 to 46.5 in 2010, a close margin. Surely there are retired judges, policemen or captains of industry willing to serve as spokesmen for the industry and help close that gap.