West Palm Beach activist (and convicted drug-runner) Robert Platshorn wants to get marijuana legalized, and he says the key to doing it is simple: old people.
He's been traveling extensively and giving talks to senior citizens as part of his "Silver Tour," which he launched in 2010 to reach out to powerful senior voting blocs — particularly Florida's — in an effort to target a demographic that isn't used to thinking about weed. But the live shows he's been giving to audiences of all ages aren't enough, he says, and he wants to expand into — get ready — infomercials.
Platshorn has teamed up with Miami producer Walter J. Collins to make a half-hour special he hopes to air hundreds of times in slots that are likely to serve him up some elderly eyes. It's called "Should Grandma Smoke Pot?" and he's raising the money to finish it on Kickstarter.
"Imagine what could happen if cannabis had a spokesman like Ron Popiel or Billy Mays," Platshorn writes in the fundraising pitch. "I am not producing some sort of documentary for film festivals, a few TV airings or a theater run that will be seen by only a few hundred people who are already supporters... A dozen great award-winning films about marijuana have been made and seen by almost no one. They end up languishing on YouTube for activists to watch over and over."
Platshorn tells New Times the notion of targeting people who weren't already agreeing with him came to him at Hempfest 2010, in Seattle.
"They get a quarter million people in three days," he said. "I had 2,000 people in front of me. I looked out and saw 2,000 smiling faces, every one of them already a supporter... Something had to change."
And the final $5,000, which he hopes will be raised through Kickstarter by August 3, will help him do that: It will pay for the final costs of wrapping up filming and postproduction, he says, and the last step will be to raise as much money as possible to pay to get the spot on the air. He guesses it will cost about $25,000 to buy 100 informercial slots, which will run in Florida first, "with a concentration from the middle to the top of the state. That's where the most resistance to legislation is.
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"With a very small campaign, I guarantee you we could get the senior vote and the liberal vote, and it could pass tomorrow in South Florida," he says. "Up north is a different story — they need a serious education. Also, it costs me three times as much to run it down in this end of the state."
He says the informercial will focus on the medicinal benefits of marijuana and feature interviews with doctors and medical-marijuana users. He also said it will include nuts-and-bolts details about actually using marijuana. He said, for example, that many old folks say they'd try marijuana but don't want smoke anything. He then rattled off almost a dozen other ways to use it.
He said the most important part of the movie is just to get people to watch it. Convincing people to legalize weed isn't hard, he says; it's getting them to listen in the first place that's the trouble — a problem he hopes his infomercial will help solve.
"It ain't for hippies, and it ain't for activists," he says of the movie. "It's for regular folks."