WASHINGTON: Heavy media outreach from the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) helped propel 17 of 20 marijuana ballot initiatives to victory on Tuesday.
In Montana, 62% of voters approved Initiative 148, which made medical marijuana legal.
Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications, said the marijuana initiatives received little national coverage thanks to the closeness of the presidential race and preponderance of marriage definition initiatives. But local press covered the issue heavily, he said, with many regional papers offering key endorsements, including all but one of the Montana papers that give endorsements.
"The problem is that the national media can really only handle two or three large storylines at a time, and it was Bush versus Kerry, Iraq, and gay marriage," Mirken said.
The MPP spent more than $2,000,000 on three state initiatives campaigns, as well as providing more than $200,000 to activists who ran the local initiative campaigns in other states.
The prevalent story in Montana was that of Robin Prosser, a woman suffering from immunosuppressive disorder who tried to commit suicide after becoming unable to pay for marijuana illegally. When the police came, they arrested her for possession.
At the time, Prosser was already working on the campaign and was willing to tell her story. Mirken said that the MPP helped patients talk to the media and featured some of them in the advertising campaigns.
"It's always a difficult line to walk because you don't want to exploit or appear like your exploiting people," Mirken said. "But we've found that when you talk about the issue in abstractions people don't really get it."