This coming November, five states will have the opportunity to vote to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, while four others will take a swing at the medical market. One of the five aiming for recreational use is Massachusetts, which will have the proposed Question 4 on the ballot. This proposition would legalize marijuana use for adults over 21 starting on December 15, and would set up retail regulations that would allow stores to sell cannabis starting January 1, 2018.
Being the northern liberal stronghold that it is, there’s a decent chance that Massachusetts will see legalization before the year’s end. But, those opposed to Question 4 are putting forth a challenge to advocates across that state, and have decided to use absurdities and inflated statistics to try and drive people to vote no on the forthcoming proposition.
Today, the GOP political consulting firm Jamestown Associates will air their first anti-cannabis ad in the state, which showcases a dystopian neighborhood that has been overwrought with marijuana stores and car accidents. In the advert, a mother and daughter drive around their suburban neighborhood, where suddenly every shop has been transformed into a dispensary. The young daughter then becomes infatuated with the edibles in the window of the shop conveniently situated next to a toy store. All the while, sirens are blaring and people are smoking cannabis all around. Then, in typical old anti-drug PSA fashion, the mother’s son walks out of the cannabis shop with a bong in hand.
What is even worse than the imagery in the advertisement is the nonsensical facts provided by the commercial’s female narrator, who claims that “in pro-pot states, incidents of drugged driving and fatal car accidents are up,” and that there are “more pot shops than McDonald’s and Starbucks combined.” In response, cannabis advocates have slammed the ad for sensationalizing false information.
“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,” said Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for YES on 4, the pro-legalization ballot committee.
Borghesani spoke out against the claim that accidents were up in pro-recreational states, stating that “studies from other states show no increase in crashes or fatalities due to marijuana impairment.” Additionally, the proposed law would create a statewide Cannabis Control Commission, which would be in charge of creating “reasonable restrictions” on store signs and advertising and “prohibiting marketing or advertising designed to appeal to children.”
The new ad, which is entitled “Neighborhoods”, is a part of the anti-cannabis effort being run by the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts. Their anti-legalization campaign is being funded by the likes of Partners HealthCare and Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who is among the most outspoken opponents to cannabis legalization in the country.
It remains to be seen whether or not the “Neighborhoods” advertisement impacts the upcoming vote. But the hefty amount of money pouring into anti-cannabis groups proves that the wealthy bigwigs and healthcare companies remain the biggest threat to preventing cannabis legalization nationwide.