05
Apr
10

Blog watch – The “Tax Cannabis 2010” Campaign

Lazy and busy is never a good combination, but I have just enough time and motivation to share two good posts from Andrew Sullivan’s blog, The Daily Dish:

First, a report on last week’s Pew poll, showing overwhelming national support for legalizing medical marijuana, and increasing support for legalizing marijuana period.  The time may not be now, but it’s soon:

MarijuanaLegal

Second, a link to Chris Good’s excellent report on the “Tax Cannabis 2010” initiative on November’s ballot.  Good’s bottom line is that this isn’t your grandparents’ grassroots-style initiative:

In short, this will be a legitimate campaign operation. Tax Cannabis is already airing a radio ad in the state’s largest and most expensive media markets, L.A. and San Francisco, featuring a former law enforcement official.

“This isn’t some…whim of a couple of hippies,” said SCN’s Dan Newman, who is handling communications for Tax Cannabis. “It’s a serious, well crafted, well funded campaign that was put together very carefully and professionally run and hopes to win.”

The campaign will do “everything that a winning campaign does,” Newman said. That would mean radio ads, TV ads, volunteer and/or robo- phone calls, door-to-door canvasses, and direct mail. Newman would not specifically say which of those Tax Cannabis will do.

Messaging will focus heavily on invoking the support of former law enforcement officials, plus the argument that has driven so much media coverage around this push: estimates that legalizing and taxing marijuana could help California’s crippled state budget to the tune of $1 billion, including tax revenue and less spending on law enforcement.

The Emerald Triangle counties probably won’t see or hear many of those ads, since we’re not a high-density market, but I’d bet that this first radio ad will be effective.  I hope the ones that follow are as good.   They’ll have to be to stand out, and the mere fact that they’re talking about marijuana won’t be enough to guarantee the audience’s attention in those high-density markets – when I left L.A. last year, radio spots for marijuana business classes were pretty common, and that trend must have increased since I’ve been gone.

In fact, one of the most surprising cultural differences I’ve noticed since I’ve been up here is just how quickly the veil of secrecy was lifted in L.A., compared to how persistent it remains up here, especially in the public sphere.

It’s taken me a while to realize this, but I’m pretty sure that every one of my neighbors is growing.  That wasn’t true in L.A.  And based on the way people drive up here, I’m pretty sure that most of the people I see on my daily commute imbibe.  Again, even though I knew plenty of Angelenos who did toke up from time to time, it wasn’t the sort of universal practice that I’ve witnessed up here.

And yet, the culture of secrecy is such that people up here aren’t as open about their views on marijuana, compared to L.A.  – where people encounter marijuana almost exclusively as a commodity.  Maybe that’s the difference.

Sure, there are plenty of people who grow in L.A., and probably in greater numbers than up here, but not as a proportion of the total population.   For the vast majority of Angelenos, marijuana is a simply a product to be purchased.  In the past, when that product had to be purchased illegally, the veil of secrecy existed in pretty much the way I imagine it existed up here – breaking the law is not something that you speak of openly or with people you don’t know very well.  Over the past few years, though, with the exponential growth of dispensaries, the visible store-fronts, the ubiquitous radio ads, the storms of windshield flyers advertising the ready supply of medical marijuana, the veil came down. Almost overnight.  Not so up here.  The difference between high density and low density, I suppose.  It’s pretty odd, though, especially considering the local history.

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3 Responses to “Blog watch – The “Tax Cannabis 2010” Campaign”


  1. 1 Kym
    April 5, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    I’m constantly having to tell freaked out neighbors that “really, what I write about on my blog, is already there on the net, in magazines, etc.” I think that many of the rural residents especially are not as linked in to the online culture.

  2. 2 Goldie
    April 5, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Here we have generational habits and traditions of language and secrets that might not exist in LA. Also I would imagine in LA there are jobs, other jobs. Here, not so much. It is a matter of life or no life.

  3. April 7, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    I’m sure your neighbors like you all the same, Kym. Wish I could hear those conversations – you should write about them. I understand where they’re coming from, though; there’s something a little unreal about online culture. It’s like the muttering going on in the background rather than the open conversation.

    Goldie, your point about the specific history up here is pretty astute. I think I understand that, too. The marijuana growing industry is not just economically significant to this region, but culturally significant; it’s been up here for a while, it was influenced by the culture and it influences the culture. That’s actually part of why I find the resistance to owning that past so distressing. It reminds me – though, obviously in a much smaller way – of the Virginia Gov. declaring April “Confederate History Month” without mentioning slavery. There’s something wrong when you can’t even acknowledge the obvious truth about yourself, or your past.

    As much as I was happy to leave it behind, Los Angeles is a dynamic cosmopolitan city, and reinvention is part of the city’s history, mythology and contemporary identity. I like that about L.A. Along with the food and the diversity, that’s probably what I miss the most. The materialism, though, not so much.


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