New ad says pot smokers "happy to be taxed'' -- can they help with CA's budget crunch

By chillinwill · Jul 8, 2009 · Updated Jul 8, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    So could legalized pot keep California from closing parks and cutting school funding in the state's current budget crunch? Folks at the Marijuana Policy Project say yes -- and they've launched a statewide ad campaign today to reach Gov.Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers in California as they wrestle this week over the yawning $26 billion-plus deficit.

    Controversy has followed the ads even before they hit the airwaves: they were rejected by the NBC affiliate in the San Francisco Bay Area, and by ABC affiliates in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The fear among some broadcasters: they appear to advocate drug use.

    But perhaps that's because such ads are a first in California, says Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project, who predicts they're going to "catch people's attention. It's something nobody's come out and said in such a straightforward manner on TV before. I think there's gonna be some interest and it'll help the conversation along.''

    The spot will be seen on cable news outlets including CNN, CNN Headline News, MSNBC and CNBC in the state's major media markets as well as on broadcast stations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento, MPP says.

    They star "an actual California marijuana consumer," Nadene Herndon of Fair Oaks, near Sacramento, who says that "the governor and legislators are ignoring millions of Californians who want to pay taxes. We're marijuana consumers. Instead of being treated like criminals for using a substance safer than alcohol, we want to pay our fair share."

    The spot can be viewed online.

    Aaron Smith, the Marijuna Policy Project's director, said he is "astonished that three major California TV stations chose to censor a discussion that Governor Schwarzenegger has said our state should have on an issue supported by 56 percent of voters, according to the Field poll.''

    "The 2 million Californians who use marijuana in a given month deserve to have their voices heard,'' he said. "And their tax dollars should help solve the fiscal emergency that threatens our schools, police and parks."

    MPP says it has more than 27,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, and ranks as the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. "MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol,'' the organization says.

    With the debut of the spots, MPP's Bruce Mirken also talked with Chronicle reporter Richard Procter today about the ads.

    Here's the Q&A:

    Q: Why are you willing to spend money on this ad when the governor has said no to tax increases?

    A: "Obviously, given the nature of things this year there's no guarantees about anything. But we thought it was very important to have the conversation -- and the fact is that there are a considerable number of people who are regular marijuana consumers who are happy to be taxed. Given the budget situation, shouldn't we be talking about that? I don't think anyone believes that the budget problems or the marijuana issue will go away this year, but this can be a part of the solution.''

    Q: Does (the Marijunana Policy Project) speak for all marijuana users, medical or otherwise? The ad makes it seem like that's the case.

    A: "We're talking about marijuana consumers in general. We certainly don't claim to speak for everybody, but there is a large body of folks out there who would be willing to bear their share of the cost of keeping the state running.''

    Q: How would marijuana be taxed?

    A: "It could be done any number of ways, we're not locked into any particular number or method. I don't think there would be any objection to a regular, garden variety sales tax. (Government officials) says they seized over $11 billion worth of marijuana last year. Obviously that number isn't exact, but if it's close, just a 9% sales tax would be about a billion dollars worth of revenue. Nobody denies this is a very large business, and to leave it outside the system is just demented.''

    Q:Will this work?

    A: "Ask me in about a week."

    Posted By: Carla Marinucci
    July 8, 2009
    San Francisco Chronicle

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  1. chillinwill
    Re: New ad says pot smokers "happy to be taxed'' -- can they help with CA's budget cr

    Marijuana Legalization TV Ads to Hit Airwaves Starting Today

    At a time when the governor and legislature have all but exchanged small arms fire over Arnold Schwarzenegger's insistence on a "no new taxes budget," a group of Californians today will begin airing ads pleading for the right to pay more taxes.

    Of course, a number of stations, including at least a pair here in San Francisco, proved to be as fond of these ads as the governor is of taxes -- because the Californians in question are, as they put it, "marijuana consumers" hoping to benefit the state's coffers via government regulated and taxed pot, a scenario proposed earlier this year by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano.

    The ad -- which will run statewide from today to at least Friday -- was bankrolled by the Marijuana Policy Project and features 58-year-old Nadene Herndon, a resident of Fair Oaks who retired from her longtime job as a policy analyst for the state of California after suffering several strokes last year. She told SF Weekly she eats or vaporizes pot daily -- "I'm not much of a smoker" -- to alleviate several lingering problems on her left side induced by the strokes. But you won't hear about it on local ABC and NBC stations KGO and KNTV, however, as they spurned the ad.

    Bruce Mirken, the Marijuana Policy Project's spokesman, said he hasn't gotten a straight answer from the stations as to why they deigned to take his group's money -- and the stations didn't give us a straight answer either. Calls to KGO weren't returned; calls to KNTV were passed up the flowchart of corporate command along with "no comments" to the point where we didn't get a call back from the station's vice president of programming.

    Meanwhile, independent KRON -- a station facing serious financial shortfalls -- was loath to turn down ad money and quickly agreed to run the MPP ad. Mirken said his group is still yet to hear back from KPIX and KTVU.

    The purpose of the ads is to push for the government to answer Ammiano's call and regulate and tax marijuana as it already does with alcohol. Actually, the MPP's goal is to get you to push the government to do this.

    "This is just generally to further the discussion of this issue, which hasn't really been talked about until the last few months," Mirken says. "But, for God's sake, when you're talking about $20 billion-plus of cuts to schools, law enforcement, and basically everything else the state does, here's a huge industry that's basically exempt from taxes. It's crazy."

    It sure is crazy -- crazy enough that ads featuring suburban retired government workers pushing for marijuana legalization will now be playing during the evening news.

    By Joe Eskenazi
    July 8, 2009
    San Francisco Weekly

  2. Phungushead
    Re: New ad says pot smokers "happy to be taxed'' -- can they help with CA's budget cr

    Hey, man, like tax me, like a lot, like now

    [IMGL="white"][/IMGL] Want proof positive that marijuana causes brain damage?

    The Marijuana Policy Project has put together a 30-second commercial urging folks up in Sacramento to legalize pot. That by itself would simply mean they hold a different opinion than many people have about whether marijuana should be accepted and has no serious side effects.

    It isn’t until you see the commercial you realize that marijuana obviously kills off brain cells. It starts with a woman going into detail about the California state budget mess. Then she delivers the line that is empirical evidence that pot use dulls the senses – well, at least, common sense. The line? “The governor and legislature are ignoring millions of Californians who want to pay taxes – we’re marijuana users. Taxes from California marijuana users could pay the salaries of 20,000 teachers.”

    So we understand that, there are people who want to beat down the door in Sacramento to pay more taxes. Marijuana users are definitely on a mind-bending trip.

    Then again, it is better than the judgment-alternating substances that the California Legislature apparently has been smoking for the last decade or so as they kept ramming California into the financial iceberg until they successful split the economy’s hull.

    In fairness to the “hell, yes, tax us now” pot heads, coming up with unique ways to raise money may indeed be a partial answer to the state’s budget crisis.

    Schwarzenegger hinted at one such solution – broadcasting budget negotiations live to jump on the reality TV rage. However enticing watching grown men bicker back and forth and a grown woman have a temper tantrum and boycott budget talks while the California drowns in a sea of red might be` in luring viewers an therefore advertisers, it isn’t the best answer.

    Instead, they should turn the State Capitol into a Disneyland-style political theme park where they print funny money. There is no need to hire anyone to fill the roles of Goofy or Mickey Mouse since we’ve already elected 120 people who can play the roles to a “T”.

    They could turn the Assembly chambers into a studio for a free-for-all TV show. Can you imagine the ratings you’d get having Jerry Springer replace Karen Bass and have the Republicans and Democrats go at it mano-mano while every special interest group that has been picketing the capitol in the last few weeks can share the stage with them yelling and screaming epitaphs at how the legislators are:

    •a) killing them?

    •b) dooming every kid in California to become dumb?

    •c) taking the state back to the Ice Age?

    Even if there aren’t a lot of advertisers willing to pay big bucks for commercials, at least taxpayers will get some entertainment from watching legislators being humiliated. At least we’ll get something for our pain and suffering.

    Since the Senate chamber has more decorum, it’s the perfect setting for a taping of the Dr. Phil Show. Can you image the wealth of material that Dr. Phil would have to do shows on? The Senate is filled with ego-maniacs, political prostitutes, cut-throat maniacs, intellectual lightweights, wheeler dealers, and liars.

    The state could start charging for access with lobbyists and others who seek special favors from Sacramento when they enter Mickey Mouse Land North. Every time a lobbyist enters they would have to pay $10,000 to the state treasury. If unlimited return privileges good for seven days, the price of admission goes up to $100,000.

    Given the amount of favors some special interest groups get from the state, the $24.6 billion deficit could be erased in perhaps two weeks, maybe three weeks at tops.

    Dennis Wyatt, Managing Editor

    July 10, 2009 2:05 a.m.
    Manteca Bulletin (CA)
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