TV AD: Solve Budget Woes By Taxing Marijuana

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A pro-marijuana group launched a television advertisement Wednesday in California advocating legalization and taxation of the drug to help solve the state's budget woes.

The 30-second spot, airing Wednesday and paid for by the Marijuana Policy Project, features a retired 58-year-old state worker who says state leaders "are ignoring millions of Californians who want to pay taxes."

"We're marijuana consumers," says Nadene Herndon, who says she began using marijuana after suffering multiple strokes three years ago. "Instead of being treated like criminals for using a substance safer than alcohol, we want to pay our fair share."

A voter-approved measure made medical marijuana legal in California in 1996. Key backers included patients with serious illnesses such as cancer and AIDS who said pot helped them manage pain and nausea. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the Obama administration will not target dispensers that follow state law.

California state lawmakers are bitterly debating how to close a $26.3 billion budget deficit that likely means cuts to state services.

In February, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a Democrat, introduced a bill to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol. Bill supporters estimate the state's pot industry could bring in more than $1 billion in taxes.

The ad will air on several cable news channels and network broadcast affiliates in Los Angeles, Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.

The group said that four California stations — KABC-TV and KTTV-TV in Los Angeles, KGO-TV in San Francisco and KNTV-TV in San Jose — refused to air the ad.

In an e-mail to the group, a KNTV account executive said the station's standards department had rejected the ad. A senior account executive at KGO said the station would not comment on its decision.

Messages left with KABC and KTTV were not immediately returned.

Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Bruce Mirken said the ad was meant to promote conversation about the issues, not to encourage pot use.

"It was consciously unsensational," Mirken said. "It's time to talk about this, and we feel very frustrated that some of these stations have taken it upon themselves to stifle the discussion."

In a phone interview, Herndon said that before filming the ad, she had not told very many people about her marijuana use. But she said her concern over the state's fiscal crisis and her support of medical marijuana led her to go public.

"I came out of the closet with this ad," she said.

Herndon said she worked as a policy analyst for several state social services departments during a 38-year career.

She said she was approached to star in the ad while her husband was taking classes at Oaksterdam University, an Oakland trade school that trains students to grow medical marijuana.

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  • by Dee Location: ENC on Jul 9, 2009 at 09:42 AM
    MAKE IT LEGAL!! Tax it and sell it. That way we can reap the benefits of the income from it and the effects!! There are several places in California where it is a cash crop. With the government trying to do away with tobacco, the farmers are going to suffer. Now they can have another crop! It can be used for so much. And honestly, it's natural! Not made in some kind of lab like meth. Now, I'm not ignorant enough to believe that once harvested that it's not cut with something else to make it more potent, but right off the stem, it has a kick! If they can legalize alcohol after prohibition, then why not Mary Jane? EVOLUTION people! Let's take back the money we lose to Cuba a year... millions of dollars. And, I'd dare say that the crime rate would go down too.
  • by Ank Location: Greenville on Jul 8, 2009 at 06:46 PM
    The most hypocritical thing I know of is the fact that alcohol is legal and advertised all over television while marijuana is illegal. Makes no sense at all and I'd like someone to try to argue this.
  • by voter Location: nc on Jul 8, 2009 at 05:51 PM
    wonderful,,a stoned nation. although cheech and chong did seem happy all the time.
  • by Bob Location: Belhaven on Jul 8, 2009 at 02:59 PM
    I have a headache, can I get me some of that Marijuana? I will pay the taxes on it. Maybe it will help me mello out, my uptight self! The only thing is I don't think I can handle the weight gain for the increase in donut consumption! Will they deliver, with gas prices like they are and the economy going down the crapper, it would save me some money and at least it would make us feel better!
  • by Anonymous on Jul 8, 2009 at 02:29 PM
    Think of all the money that could be raised in taxes, not a bad idea. People are going to use it, why not make it legal and tax it.
  • by Tim Location: G vagas on Jul 8, 2009 at 01:59 PM
    MAKE it LEGALIZE it, it has been proven that it is safer than alcohol and that no one has ever overdosed from it.
  • by Steve Location: Greenville on Jul 8, 2009 at 01:56 PM
    Is nothing sacred, leave WEED alone!!!

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