The main thing we want is for the pro-legalization side to stop doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. This page is our argument for what needs to be done differently. Urban voters need to ask rural voters to voluntarily agree to legalize marijuana.
Rural voters have political power greater than their population. Maybe that is because the founding fathers were rural plantation owners who did not want to be dictated to by cities; so they came up with a variety of techniques like the Electoral College to protect their power. This was the gist of former Chief Justice Earl Warren's argument "One Man, One Vote". Over 50 years ago, Warren argued that legislators should not represent trees or vacant land; but they still do. The reason this will not change in your lifetime is because urban voters need the permission of rural voters to change this status quo.
We are going to offer the recent election of Donald Trump as an example of the political clout of rural voters. How many urban voters wanted that? How many times do rural voters have to win before urban voters start taking them seriously?
Urban voters want something (marijuana legalization) and it is being blocked by rural voters. The only way this will change soon is for rural voters to agree voluntarily. But urban voters and rural voters live in different worlds, and don't speak the same language. That is where we come in. We know how to ask rural down-state voters to voluntarily give the people of Chicago what they want.
We have a difference of opinion with the large national organizations, who claim they want to legalize marijuana. Here our opinion on this topic.
Even though Illinois does not have a direct voter initiative process, we still think the way to persuade conservative down-state legislators is to persuade their constituent voters.
Reaching young urban voters in Chicago via the internet is preaching to the choir (80% of these voters already support marijuana legalization). That is good for fundraising or getting out your base (and we do that too). But at some point, fundraising should lead to campaigning.
Campaigning is when you try to persuade people who do not already agree with you.
The target audience of a marijuana legalization campaign in Illinois should be older rural voters, outside the Chicago area, via older media (newspapers, television, radio, billboards, lawn signs, direct mail fliers, et cetera). We are in rural Illinois, near the state capital. When the Illinois medical marijuana bill was being debated, the only non-internet advertising we saw in our area was the stuff we ran ourselves. Even though our state senator represents a conservative area, he voted for the medical marijuana bill; that may not be entirely because of us, but it helps to have this topic openly discussed in the local newspaper. This approach should be replicated in other rural counties.
The hometown newspaper is still the primary source for local news in small town America; the major networks in New York and Chicago do not cover the Carlinville City Council. During the medical marijuana debate, we got amazing bang for our buck with business card sized ads with the word "Marijuana" at the top in 36pt type. For $25.00 we can have that ad delivered to every house in the county in the free, advertiser-paid paper; this is an excellent return on investment.
The lawn sign carries a lot of weight in an area where everyone knows each other. "Gee, if Bob thinks marijuana should be legalized, maybe it's not such a crazy idea." People do not have to listen to a particular radio or television station, but they do have to drive down the street.
The problem with the internet as a medium is that people need to be actively looking for your information; the internet model is "we will only show you stuff you are already interested in". The advantage of non-internet media is, our message is put in front of people in the normal course of their daily lives.
Also, these types of display ads in the community add credibility to our campaign, beyond mere internet advertising alone. Hackers and trolls do not walk into the local newspaper office to place an ad.
The reason politicians still campaign this way in rural Illinois is because this is what works.
We too will cite experts when we choose. But rural down-state voters are not country bumpkins who only listen to authority figures, like police, preachers or teachers. We interact with these voters on a daily basis. They are educated, experienced and understand logic. They can, and should, be persuaded. We should not simply write them off. They do have representatives in the state legislature.
We do not provide a forum to "debate" people who think marijuana should be illegal; their side has had 80 years of taxpayer funding to pursue their agenda. Our purpose is to provide an outlet for the pro-legalization side to be heard. We are advocates.
Because this particular campaign is directed at older rural voters, our pitch is, marijuana should be taxed like alcohol, because Illinois needs all the money it can get.
Some people claim legalizing marijuana is a slippery slope. It is not. Anyone who has thought about this should know exactly what is coming.
Whether the government likes it or not, inevitably, in the near future three things will be different, in roughly this order. First, marijuana will be legal for adults to use at their own discretion without a note from their doctor. Second, the fear of marijuana, that has been artificially created by the government through 80 years of false advertising, will be gone. Third, advertising for marijuana will be as commonplace and innocuous as beer advertising is now, and will look a lot like beer advertising does now. Granted it may take another 20 years, until the Baby Boomers are in their eighties and the prior generation is dead, but it is inevitable.
We are asserting that this future can be dramatically hastened by reversing the order of things. That is, mass media advertising, directed at the general public, will remove the fear and result in legalization. Further, we are asserting this future should be hastened, so that more lives and money are not wasted on this intentionally false and malicious policy.
We hate to speak ill of anyone who is pro-marijuana, but some criticism is necessary to explain our differences.
Marijuana certainly has many health benefits. But medical marijuana was originally intended to be a way to get our foot in the door. The ultimate goal was supposed to be, push the door open to full-blown legalization. The general stress of life, or wanting to have fun, are not medical conditions. In fact, even calling marijuana "medicine" invites a host of federal regulations that we would rather not deal with.
Because the time between medical marijuana and full-blown legalization has taken far too long, an entrenched infrastructure has grown up around the medical marijuana model. Understandably, people who invested large sums of money in medical marijuana want to recoup their money. But because of that, the medical marijuana infrastructure has become one of the largest resistors to full-blown legalization.
There are people in prison, and general lawlessness all over Central and South America, so we can't wait. Investing in an industry in flux is always speculative. It is genuinely sad that these trail blazers may lose their money. Hopefully, medical marijuana companies will adapt to the new model and prosper.
Likewise, simply being in the marijuana legalization business has created its own entrenched infrastructure. If someone has been in the legalization business for more than 20 or 40 years, and has built up a lot of employees and debts, are they really in a big hurry to put themselves out of business? They too should constantly rethink their business models to remain in the vanguard. Achieving full-blown legalization has already taken far too long.
The major national organizations (that raise millions of dollars) seem to have acquiesced that they will not debate marijuana legalization in the mass media, because it might be seen by a minor. We strongly disagree. Springfield and the capitol building should be surrounded by billboards that say "Legalize Marijuana"; that's the sort of thing we are raising money for. If the government can shut down speech by merely producing a minor, then the First Amendment has no meaning.
Your donation to this campaign will not be used to pay the mortgage on an office building in Washington, DC, or even to rent office space in downtown Chicago. It will be used for pro-marijuana mass media advertising aimed at the general public.
Urban voters should not believe that the caricature of small town America, that is being sold by hucksters (on both the left and the right) to make money, is actually representative of small town America. If you go to a small-town band concert, the musicians will be in their fifties, and the music will be hits from the 1960's and 70's. Rural voters are normal human beings. A significant portion of rural voters, like us, have moved here from the big cities.
It is in the business interest of these hucksters create and exploit an artificial conflict between urban and rural voters. It is our goal at MJ4IL to get marijuana legalized, and move on to the next project. We assure urban voters that rural voters are among the nicest people in the world, and if you ask them nicely, they will be very accommodating.
The alternative to asking nicely is to continue to characterize rural voters as "knuckle draggers", and wait until there is a large enough demographic shift so that urban voters can dictate terms. That should keep the hucksters in the mass media in business for another 20 years.
Please help bring our campaign to other rural counties in Illinois. As we said before, our pitch is, marijuana should be taxed like alcohol, because Illinois needs all the money it can get. Help us end the fear of talking about marijuana legalization in the mass media.
See our Lawn and Window Signs page.