The Pot Legalization Battle Goes On The Air


Yes, we are looking at marijuana and the airwaves again today. It is time to, since this week saw the launch of the first radio ad supporting legalization. From a purely neutral standpoint, this is something to be well aware of. After all, as Radio Business Report stated:

This is the kind of hot-button issue that will likely generate considerable interest, not just in California, but nationally. If supporters maintain an air presence, there will almost certainly be pushback from opponents, and cash from interested parties in other parts of the US could also flow into the state.

So pay attention. In this initial round, we have a pro-legalization ad that runs about a minute in length. It will be in rotation for a week and a half in the Los Angeles and San Francisco markets. The question is will it maintain and/or gain momentum or will it fizzle out and pass. If the former occurs, backlash from the opposing side is certain, as is the accompanying advertising spend.

So what does this first salvo sound like? John Hoeffle at The Los Angeles Times gives us a synopsis:

The ad features Jeffrey Studdard, a former school district police officer and reserve L.A. County sheriff’s deputy. Studdard says that he has “seen firsthand that the current approach on cannabis is simply not working,” explaining that the fight against marijuana has led to “violent drug cartels” and “dealers in our schools and our streets” without reducing consumption.

He concludes by saying the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act, which would allow cities and counties to authorize pot sales and tax them, would raise billions and allow police to focus on violent crime.

According to Hoeffle’s article, the group has  hopes to raise funds for further rotations of this ad as well as  plans for other radio and television spots featuring police officers, judges, doctors, teachers and parents. I would say that we are looking at the beginning of a political ad trend that will buy a lot of airtime over the course of 2010.

There is a very real possibility that this is a trend to watch. With politics as polarized as they are in modern-day America, an issue this controversial is likely to spark as we enter the coming round of elections.

Note: Comments on this post will be sternly moderated. They are not for the purpose of arguing for or against legalization and they are not a place to discuss the politics of the story. Those comments will be summarily deleted.

Image: thoht / CC BY 2.0

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3 Responses to “The Pot Legalization Battle Goes On The Air”

  1. Neil Hepburn Says:

    Radio holds a distinguished position in the advertising world as compared to: print; Internet; television; and out-of-home (i.e. billboards). It is distinguished in that it is best positioned to deliver complex and nuanced messaging (as opposed to just simple brand reinforcement). Think about your morning commute and how easy it is to recite so many commercials you’ve sat through, and how detailed those commercials are compared to television commercials or Google Ads.

    Corroborates my belief that radio advertising is increasingly relevant in our society as the issues that confront us become ever more complex and nuanced.

  2. George Williams Says:

    Neil I always love your input! It’s usually quite astute and this instance is a perfect example. I’d also like to point out that in addition to nuance radio is also brilliant in another way that print, Internet, etc are not: You can listen to radio while you are driving. Or working on a construction site, or changing your baby’s diapers, and so on and so on.

    Radio allows you to multitask while still absorbing more detailed and nuanced content. Why do think I was so addicted to radio when I was a refugee from Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures? Got a lot better picture of the situation that I was being given by TV or print media.

    Thanks for chiming in, and I hope things are rocking with you over at Tun3r!

  3. Neil Hepburn Says:

    Thanks George!

    I do love the multitasking aspect of radio too.
    I’ve been commuting long distances for the past few months, and radio continues to a constant in my life that I look forward to. Yes, I listen to audio books and my iPod library, but still find myself coming back to the airwaves.

    TUN3R continues to be a labour of love for me. I’m just happy and proud to be involved in the radio community.


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