New Approach Washington, the group behind Initiative 502, the Evergreen State’s upcoming cannabis legalization measure, has just released their first TV ad. The ad has been deemed ambitious by some, and as too negative by some legalization supporters.
I-502 has certainly garnered much controversy within the cannabis community with various factions split on whether to support, oppose or remain neutral on the measure. Many activists don’t support the measure because of the per se DUI provision that may ensnare non-impaired drivers, particularly medical marijuana patients, with a driving under the influence provision merely for having THC metabolites in their blood stream, among other reasons. Activists that support the measure counter that the DUI provision is necessary for passage and that a greater good will be accomplished as the number of DUI arrests and convictions due to cannabis will pale in comparison to the number of people currently arrested for marijuana possession in Washington State.
Supporting activists also latch onto the fact that any problematic provisions may be reformed later through another initiative or the legislative process. These activists maintain that it is important to pass a legalization measure first; that activists shouldn’t be waiting on a perfect measure while opposing good progress. The Seattle Hempfest, the world’s largest pro-cannabis legalization rally, has decided to remain neutral on the measure. Personally, I am very sympathetic to the activists that oppose the measure as I am not a fan of the per se DUI provision, nor do I support the restriction on personal gardens under the measure. However, as an activist, I can’t help but support the measure as I view it as a step in the right direction for the national movement. I also hold out hope that the measure may be improved after passage.
New Approach Washington has certainly assembled a top-notch professional team that is systematically working to win at the ballot box this November. Polls demonstrate that females, particularly mothers, will be an important demographic to sway if we hope to end cannabis prohibition and this first ad certainly seems targeted toward mothers. SurveyUSA recently polled Washington voters, finding that 55% support I-502 while 32% oppose. Hopefully, this approach holds up and convinces a majority of Washington voters that prohibition is a failed policy that needs to be repealed.