Nine states are fixing to vote on marijuana legalization next month. Five of those states (Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada) are trying to go all the way into the recreational market. That much electoral heat is resulting in some extremely entertaining political TV ads, both for and against legalization.

The surprising thing, when you actually watch these ads, is that the anti-marijuana legalization ads are hands down better and more fun to watch than the marketing in favor of legalization.

Pro-legalization ads

A typically lame pro-legalization ad is the one running in California right now. Like a lot of other pro-legalization marketing, this ad does not go for liberals, stoners, or medical marijuana patients. It figures they’re already in the bag. Instead it goes for uncool people, the unconverted. And that results in a deeply uncool ad.

It looks like the end of a pharmaceutical ad, not the part that catches your eye. The part that’s just dry information. In fact, if you’re not paying close attention, it looks and sounds like an anti-marijuana ads. It says that the best part about Proposition 64 is that it will ban and strictly regulate cannabis.  It promises to, “ban advertising directed at kids,” require “strict lableing,” and “ban edibles that appeal to children.” Not very pot-friendly. “Smart provisions to safeguard our families,” is the slogan. Sounds like an ad from the Reagan campaign.

Maine and Massachusetts both took slightly more dynamic, but no less conservative approaches to cheering on cannabis legalization. They both feature cops (or in the case of Massachussetts, a “kahp”) talking directly to the camera and explaining how great legalization will be.

The Mass cop, like the California ad, again emphasizes law and order. Legalization will ban this, ban that, mandate “strict product labeling,” tax, regulate, etc., etc.

The Maine cop says that actually legalizing weed will be great for cops, because without having to patrol reefer-peddlers, their time will be “better spent solving murders, sexual assault cases, finding missing children.” True, and very Bunny Colvin in The Wire, but not a very sexy argument.

Anti-legalization ads