BOSTON Oct 3 Campaigns to legalize recreational
marijuana use in Massachusetts and Maine launched their first
television ads on Monday, hoping to boost public awareness and
support ahead of November votes on the issue.
The ads began just over a month before Election Day, when
voters in five U.S. states will determine whether to legalize
the recreational use of the drug, following the lead of
Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, as well as the District
The Massachusetts ads feature Tom Nolan, a former Boston
Police Department officer and current professor of criminal
justice at Merrimack College, advocating for legalization as a
way to better regulate marijuana use.
"Question 4 requires strict product labeling and child-proof
packaging and bans consumption by kids," Nolan says in the
30-second spot, citing the question's position on the Nov. 8
The Maine advertisement also features an ex-law enforcement
official, former Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion, who argues
that legalizing the use of the drug for adults over the age of
21 would free up police resources to investigate violent crimes.
The campaigns launch a week after the group Regulate
Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona launched its first blast of TV
ads. Voters in California and Nevada will also face ballot
questions on the issue this year.
Both the Massachusetts and Maine campaigns face stiff
opposition from local officials, with Boston Mayor Martin Walsh,
a recovering alcoholic, among the most prominent Democratic
voices against the idea. Walsh has stressed the perceived risk
that legalizing marijuana could lead users to become addicted
first to pot and then other drugs.
Maine Governor Paul LePage, a Republican, has also
repeatedly voiced his opposition.
Recent opinion polls have shown voters in both northeastern
states favoring legalization. Some 53 percent of respondents to
a WBZ/UMass Amherst poll of 700 likely Massachusetts voters last
month supported the measure.
The result in Maine was much the same, with 53 percent of
505 likely voters polled by the Portland Press Herald saying
they favored the idea.
Massachusetts' pro-legalization Yes on 4 Campaign said its
initial $650,000 television campaign would last a week, with the
group potentially extending it if it proved effective.
"It's a matter of how much money we have and how much TV we
can afford," said Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for the group.
"Voters will see more TV adds, they'll see some mailings and
we'll certainly be attending forums and debates."
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Frances Kerry)