Advocates for legalizing pot use 'soft sell' in TV spot

VANCOUVER, Wash. - The first pro-marijuana TV ad for Washington's fall election starts airing this week in Washington, and the commercial tries a soft-sell approach.

The ad debuts Wednesday at two Seattle TV stations and a cable channel. It never tells voters to support Initiative 502, it never asks them to agree that pot should be legal, it just says let's talk about it.

"I don't like it personally, but it's time for a conversation about legalizing marijuana," Kate Pippinger, the woman in the ad says to the camera.

Casually holding her coffee, Pippinger, identified as a Washington mom, may not like marijuana, but she sure wants to talk about regulating the drug.

"We could tax it to fund schools and health care. Free up police to go after violent crime instead. And we would control the money, not the gangs," she says.

The ad from New Approach Washington targets voters like Christina Cooley.

"I honestly don't pay any attention to the ads," the mother of two from La Center said.

Cooley was watching her son's Pop Warner football practice when a KATU News reporter showed her the commercial on his laptop.

"That was pretty good. It actually made me - I did think about it. ... Right off the bat (the woman in the ad) says she didn't agree with it," Cooley said after watching the ad.

She said she worries marijuana is more likely to reach her kids if it's legal, but she said the ad spoke to her.

"It was a good ad, and it made me think, but still, as a mom with two kids in public schools, I'm going to have to think really hard," she said.

The ad wasn't as successful at swaying parents firmly opposed to the drug.

"It would just send the wrong message to future generations. It would be something I would vote against," said Vancouver resident Mark Sipes.

"I'm too strong against not legalizing it. (It) doesn't work for me," said Diana Cooper.

But the ad did work on Shannon Giessler who is a mother of two young boys in Vancouver. She said she likes the idea of taxes going to her children's schools.

"Whether it's legal or not people are going to do it so you might as well legalize it, I think, and use the money for good things," she said.

Giessler dismissed the idea that more kids will use the drug even though opponents warn that's exactly what will happen if legalization leads to lower prices.

"The more you have something available the more it's likely to fall in the hands - all you have to do is look at alcohol and see how quickly that falls in the hands of teens," said Tom Parker, a spokesman with Lines for Life.

New Approach Washington is spending $1 million to keep ad the running in the Seattle area for three weeks. It doesn't plan to air ads in the Vancouver area until late September or October.

Supporters of Measure 80, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, say they have no immediate plans to start running ads, but that could change in mid-September as voters begin to pay more attention to the fall election.

Meanwhile, they are fundraising to pay for ads and other campaign efforts.

Watch the ad: