Last month, the backers of Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, unveiled a billboard near Mile High Stadium (and a liquor store) that took a soft-sell approach to promoting the proposal. So, too, does the first campaign commercial for Amendment 64, which starts airing today and is on view below. The concept: to encourage young people to tell their elders why they prefer cannabis to booze.
In the ad, "a young woman is writing an e-mail to her mother, talking about her experiences in college with drinking and why she now prefers marijuana as a young adult," says Betty Aldworth, advocacy director for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. "And then she invites her mom to have a conversation with her about marijuana."
Aldworth has done just that in her personal life. When we reached her this morning, she was having breakfast with her mother in Nevada -- and "my mom is a perfect example of the conversations we want people to be having," she allows. "She's never smoked marijuana in her life, but I've been talking to her about why marijuana prohibition is more dangerous than marijuana itself. And today, if she were a Colorado resident, she would be voting for Amendment 64."
The ad's dialogue and graphics don't specifically highlight the proposal. Instead, the commercial, which was scheduled to appear today during broadcasts of Today, Ellen and The Doctors, is intended to lay the groundwork for support in a more subtle way.
"One of the core tenets that we're working from is the notion that as people talk about marijuana and marijuana prohibition and changing the face of marijuana in Colorado, more and more people will come to understand that it only makes sense to regulate marijuana like alcohol," Aldworth says.
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Likewise, the imagery is intended to explode stereotypes. "Many people think of marijuana users as slackers and losers," she concedes. "But we know that successful, driven professionals use marijuana instead of alcohol every day in Colorado. And we need those people to start talking about why it makes sense to regulate marijuana like alcohol."
Page down to continue reading our interview with Betty Aldworth and to see the ad. This approach is working, she believes. She cites polls showing that about 50 percent of Coloradans approve of the concept behind Amendment 64, while around 40 percent oppose it. She adds that volunteers throughout the state believe the word-of-mouth approach espoused by the billboard and the ad are changing hearts and minds.
If voters miss their chance to see the commercial today, they'll have plenty more opportunities. Not only is it online at RegulateMarijuana.org, but Aldworth says "we'll be targeting ads over the course of the summer and then shooting for heavy advertising in the fall."
Funding for these blitzes will come in part from a nearly $700,000 matching-donation "money bomb" recently dropped by the Marijuana Policy Project. But Aldworth knows more resources will be needed.
"We have a fight in front of us in order to ensure the passage of Amendment 64," she says. "So we're continuously looking for support of people in Colorado and across the nation.
"We know that all eyes are on Colorado in terms of people who are interested in marijuana policy reform," she continues, "and we welcome the financial support of anyone. We think this particular initiative is extremely well-crafted and an excellent opportunity for Colorado to demonstrate to the rest of the nation and perhaps the world that regulating marijuana like alcohol works."
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More from our Marijuana archive: "Photo: Pro-marijuana billboard erected near Mile High stadium, liquor store."