SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A pro-marijuana group launched a television advertisement Wednesday in California advocating legalization and taxation of the drug to help solve the state's budget woes.
The 30-second spot, airing Wednesday and paid for by the Marijuana Policy Project, features a retired 58-year-old state worker who says state leaders "are ignoring millions of Californians who want to pay taxes."
"We're marijuana consumers," says Nadene Herndon of Fair Oaks, who says she began using marijuana after suffering multiple strokes three years ago. "Instead of being treated like criminals for using a substance safer than alcohol, we want to pay our fair share."
State lawmakers are bitterly debating how to close a $26.3 billion budget deficit that likely means cuts to state services.
In February, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, introduced a bill to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol. Bill supporters estimate the state's pot industry could bring in more than $1 billion in taxes.
The ad will air on several cable news channels and network broadcast affiliates in Los Angeles, Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.
The group said that four California stations — KABC-TV and KTTV-TV in Los Angeles, KGO-TV in San Francisco and KNTV-TV in San Jose — refused to air the ad.