This morning, New Approach Washington, the campaign behind marijuana legalization Initiative 502, begins a $1 million TV advertising blitz. The 30-second spot features a local actress who is also a mother of four. The campaign is deliberately trying to reach women, says manager Alison Holcomb. And there's a reason why.
There's a gender divide in the pot legalization movement.
"Women tend to support reform less strongly than men do," Holcomb says. She points to a statewide SurveyUSA poll (scroll down to no. 15) that came out in July. Overall, the poll showed a majority supporting I- 502. But only 49 percent of women said the initiative should be enacted, whereas 62 percent of men gave their blessing.
Why the divide? "That's a great question," Holcomb says. She speculates that women don't respond to either side of what has become a polarized debate-- with "hardliner, Reefer Madness [anti-marijuana] warriors" on one side and on the other pot-lovers who like to haul out all the ostensible benefits of imbibing.
So New Approach decided not only to put a female face on its TV presence, but to use what Holcomb calls a "softer" approach. The message, she says: "You don't have to think marijuana is good, but you can acknowledge that treating it as a crime is not helping the matter."
So the ad starts off with Kate Pippinger, identified as a "Washington mom," saying she doesn't like marijuana "personally" but feels it's time for a "conversation" about legalization. She mentions neither aging cancer survivors using cannabis for their pain, nor fun-loving stoners. Instead, she talks about freeing up police officers, putting a dent in gang culture and reaping the benefits from taxation.
What New Approach is hoping for it a Pauline Sabin-like moment. Sabin was an heiress who initially supported prohibition and then turned against it, founding an influential reform movement that railed against prohibition's hypocrisy and its inadvertent promotion of the bootlegging industry. Scores of matrons across the country signed on.
The matron brigade lent normalcy and respectability to the anti-prohibition movement, qualities that the marijuana legalization effort also sorely needs.