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.