The campaign to legalize marijuana in California has been pretty low-key in terms of media ad buys, but a week out from the election proponents of drug law reform are finally joining the fray and they've chosen none other than Joseph McNamara, former police chief of San Jose, to carry their message to the masses.
And the ad comes not a moment too soon for Prop. 19 supporters, as recent polls have shown opinions trending toward continuing prohibition.
McNamara, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and a member of advocacy group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, doesn't pull any punches.
"Let's be honest: the war against marijuana has failed," he says, as photos of his career in law enforcement flash across the screen.
"I know from 35 years in law enforcement, today it's easier for a teenager to buy pot than beer. Proposition 19 will tax and control marijuana just like alcohol."
A classroom. A list of other cops who support Prop. 19. McNamara continues: "It will generate billions of dollars for local communities, allow police to focus on violent crimes, and put drug cartels out of business. Join me and many others in law enforcement. Vote YES on Proposition 19."
McNamara's advocacy is actually the first time the Prop. 19 debate has garnered commercial space on television. It's running in Los Angeles starting on Tuesday and the Yes on 19 campaign is pitching a last-minute fund drive to keep spreading their ad right up until election day.
Opponents of marijuana legalization, which includes every Democrat running for statewide office, argue that legalization would make highways and workplaces less safe. They also worry that it could endanger the state's share of federal highway dollars.
US Attorney General Eric Holder has vowed to continue enforcing federal law against purveyors and consumers of cannabis, regardless of whether or not Prop. 19 passes.
He may not have to worry about it: a collection of polls tracked by Talking Points Memo shows opinions trending toward prohibition, in a big way. This, in spite of a clear lead for marijuana legalization up until the month of October, where it all seems to have gone downhill for reform advocates. A results summary average put legalization one point behind the opposition, 46.3 to 45.3.
In spite of their sinking fortunes in the polls, the Yes on 19 campaign has taken in over $650,000 in donations just this last month, according to The Los Angeles Times.
At this point, anything could happen.
This television ad is from the Yes on 19 campaign.
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