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A 33-year police veteran stars in Oregon’s new $2M marijuana legalization ad campaign

A sample of marijuana at the Collective Awakenings dispensary in Portland, Ore. (Beth Nakamura/the Oregonian/AP)
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Marijuana legalization advocates in Oregon have launched a $2 million-plus ad campaign starring a 33-year police veteran.

The new ad, embedded below, features Pete Tutmark, a former patrol sergeant and sheriff’s deputy. Tutmark criticizes what he calls a “broken” system that diverts resources from important crime-solving to drug arrests and urges his fellow Oregonians to vote yes on measure 91 this fall, which would legalize and regulate recreational marijuana use.

“Last year in Oregon, there were 13,000 citations and arrests for marijuana,” he says in the ad. “That takes time, time better spent solving murders, rape cases, finding missing children. The system’s broken.”

The ad, called “It’s About Time,” began running on Wednesday and was scheduled to air during the newscasts of several local TV stations, including affiliates of every major broadcast network. It is the first ad aired on broadcast and cable TV by the Yes on 91 campaign, which has also received endorsements from retired chief federal prosecutor Kris Olson and retired Oregon Supreme Court justice Bill Riggs. Earlier online ads featured several Oregonians, including Richard Harris, a former director of Addiction and Mental Health Services.

A poll last week of nearly 700 registered Oregonian voters found that roughly 44 percent support the legalization measure, while 40 percent oppose it. That “narrowest and most unreliable of margins,” as pollster SurveyUSA described it, represented a narrowing from a June poll that found support winning 51 percent to 41 percent.

More than nine percent of all arrests in Oregon in 2012 were over marijuana, according to state statistics. Of the nearly 13,000 marijuana arrests, more than five in six were over possession for use as opposed to sale.