The video kicks off with a couple awkwardly sitting next to each other as glasses of wine on a nearby table and the sound of Marvin Gaye singing "Let's Get It On" encourage them to do...something.
What happens next? Rather than succumbing to Marvin's entreaties and ripping each other's clothes off, they indulge in naked conversation -- about legalizing marijuana. It's all part of a novel campaign to encourage conversations about pot on the eve of 4/20. See the video and learn more below.
The person introducing the initiative is Mason Tvert, one of the primary proponents of Amendment 64, which allows adults 21 and over in Colorado to use and possess small amounts of cannabis. He's also the director of communications for the national Marijuana Policy Project.
What's the concept behind the video? According to Tvert, "When it comes to ending marijuana prohibition, one of the biggest obstacles to overcome is getting people to talk openly about it. So we are making an effort to encourage people to talk to one another about their support. There's now a majority of Americans who support ending marijuana prohibition, and if they all speak up and let those around them know they support it, we are sure to see it end soon.
"This is something we did throughout the campaign in Colorado," Tvert points out. "And we have polling data that shows in Colorado, a far greater percentage of voters said that they heard something positive about the initiative from a friend than they did in Washington," a state that passed a marijuana measure similar to Amendment 64 this past November.
In Colorado, 12 percent of respondents said they'd heard something positive about the pot ballot initiative, as opposed to 5 percent in Washington.
"We made a very concerted effort, constantly encouraging supporters to reach out to their friends and family members and let them know about their support, and to start conversations," Tvert goes on. "And it really made a difference."
Given that advertisements also helped spread the message, the "Let's Get It On" campaign is something of a hybrid effort -- using video to get people to communicate about their views on marijuana legalization.
Of course, such conversations take place frequently in Colorado -- and with eighteen states and Washington, D.C., allowing medical marijuana, the topic should be less taboo at this point. But Tvert knows that stigmas remain.
"Marijuana is still an illegal substance nationwide, and people throughout their entire lives have had to worry about the possibility of criminal penalties if they use it," Tvery points out. "So a lot of people don't want to talk openly about it."
In 2005, when Tvert backed a cannabis measure in Denver, "standing in front of a King Soopers asking people to make marijuana legal was a lot different than standing in front of the same King Soopers and asking the same question in 2012," he notes. "It wasn't long ago that we had people saying, 'I don't want my name on that list,' or 'I can't do that' for whatever reason. But now the attitudes have shifted here. People are willing to openly talk about their support."
Where is that not the case right now?
"All the other parts of the country, pretty much," he replies. "There are still people who are in many cases understandably fearful of openly discussing marijuana, whether it's because they don't know how to explain their support to their kids or their boss or whoever. So we're trying to encourage them to start those conversations -- to inspire public debate and get people to talk about it. Let their friends at work, their employer, their brother in law, know it's okay to support it."
The campaign will be entirely online. "Fortunately," Tvert says, "one of the best weapons supporters of ending marijuana prohibition have is the Internet. We know that there are a lot of people out there who think it's time to change our marijuana laws, and we're really trying to push that community along in terms of inspiring people to speak out not just online, but person to person."
The timing of the launch one day before 4/20 isn't coincidental. As Tvert sees it, "4/20 is the one day out of the entire year where a lot of people feel more comfortable openly using and talking about marijuana. Whereas people feel perfectly comfortable talking about having a beer every day of the year, there's only really one day where people come out in droves and express their support for marijuana, and in some cases use it. So we want to take this opportunity to encourage people to get out there and let others know it's time to come out and call for marijuana prohibition to end."
Here's the video, followed by the MPP release accompanying it.
Marijuana Policy Project release:
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SHOW ME HOW
Tomorrow is April 20 (4/20), a date that has become synonymous with marijuana and is celebrated at public events and private get-togethers across the nation. Whether you partake or pass, I hope you will use it as an opportunity to share your feelings about marijuana with those close to you.
Specifically, I encourage you to start conversations with friends and/or family members who still think marijuana is too dangerous to be legal for adults. Help them understand that it is actually far less harmful than alcohol, and explain why you support ending prohibition. It's this type of personal appeal that will get people to listen to the facts and reconsider their current beliefs.
MPP just released a short and entertaining online video, titled "Let's Get It On," to inspire people to initiate the marijuana conversation. Please take a moment to check it out -- it's worth it -- and then share it with anyone who supports making marijuana legal. You will also have the option of sending an editable pre-written email to those you know who could still use some enlightenment.
Winning over the hearts and minds of the people you know best is the quickest and easiest way to build support for reform. So please watch the "Let's Get It On" video today, share it widely, and help begin the conversations that will bring marijuana prohibition to an end.
Mason Tvert Director of Communications Marijuana Policy Project Denver, CO