Wash. legal marijuana group launches television ad campaign

SEATTLE (AP) - A group pushing a measure to legalize and tax marijuana in Washington state is launching a three-week television ad campaign.

New Approach Washington, the group behind Initiative 502, says the advertisement will begin airing throughout Western Washington on Wednesday, including on KOMO-TV.

The advertisement features a woman who says she doesn't like marijuana, but it's a multi-million-dollar industry that doesn't benefit the state. She says that if marijuana is taxed and regulated, the state would control the money - "not the gangs" - and it could go toward schools and health care, while freeing up police to go after violent crime.

The campaign has plenty of supporters, but also has its critics.

"I don't know how it makes good sense to legalize something that serves no other purpose than to cause impairment," said Ed Holmes of the Washington Association of Sheriff's and Police Chiefs.

Holmes, who is also Mercer Island's chief of police, said simply taxing and regulating marijuana will not make the job any easier for law enforcement officers.

"People (using marijuana) say things they wouldn't say, they do things they wouldn't do, they commit crimes they otherwise wouldn't commit and that's the concern we have with smoking marijuana," he said.

Voters in Washington, Colorado and Oregon are voting this fall on whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use.