New Jersey Marijuana Campaign Launches First Ad As Poll Shows Support For Legalization Referendum

A coalition of civil rights and drug policy reform groups working to pass a marijuana legalization referendum on New Jersey’s November ballot launched their first video ad on Friday.

NJ CAN 2020—which includes organizations such as the ACLU New Jersey, NAACP, Drug Policy Alliance, New Jersey Cannabusiness Association and Law Enforcement Action Partnership—says the goal is to ensure that as many voters as possible are aware of the measure.

The 30-second spot focuses on law enforcement issues, specifically making the case that cannabis criminalization wastes taxpayer dollars and police resources that could go toward pursuing more serious crimes.

Here’s the script from the video:

“Hey, you! Let’s talk about this. Right now.

Every year, New Jersey wastes over $143 million dollars arresting people for marijuana possession. Yes—143, zero zero zero, zero zero zero.

And we make over 32,000 of these arrests every single year while murders and sexual assaults remain unsolved.

Let’s stop this waste—of money, of time—and let police focus on actually protecting people.

Vote ‘yes’ on public question one.”

After lawmakers failed to approve a legalization bill, they decided to place the issues before voters as a referendum on the ballot. If it succeeds, the legislature will then have to pass implementing legislation containing details for how the legal cannabis market will work.

And so far, polling indicates New Jersey is on that path to legalize. A survey from the New Jersey law firm Brach Eichler that was released on Friday shows that 65 percent of likely voters are in favor of the policy change. That’s consistent with the results of a poll the firm published last month, signaling that support is steady.

While there’s already strong awareness of the referendum—with almost 70 percent of respondents saying they’ve heard about or are paying close attention to it—an ad campaign could help fill that remaining gap. Only one-in-four likely voters said in the new survey that they’ve seen television, online or print ads about the measure.

“We’re working day and night to set the record straight about why we need to vote ‘YES’ this November, to legalize marijuana, end unnecessary and racially disparate arrests, and stop the waste of New Jersey’s much-needed public resources,” NJ CAN 2020 campaign manager Axel Owen said in an email blast to supporters on Friday.

The ad was posted on YouTube, but the campaign is soliciting donations to expand its reach, including by having it run on streaming services like Hulu. They’re aiming to raise $50,000 to broaden exposure.

“If we are going to break through the noise of this election year and make sure New Jersey voters know to vote ‘YES’ for legalization, we’ll need your help,” Owen wrote. “We want to launch our first ad, far and wide, but we need the money to do so.”

When it comes to the prospect of legalizing marijuana in the Garden State, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) is supportive. He said in July that legalizing cannabis is “an incredibly smart thing to do” both from an economic and social justice perspective.

In June, the state Assembly approved a bill to decriminalize possession of up to two ounces of marijuana, but it hasn’t advanced in the Senate.

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Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.

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