Medical Marijuana Commercial Rejected for Super Bowl

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Acerage Holdings’ medical marijuana ad
Source: Javier Hasse, “Acreage Cannibas Ad Rejected for Super Bowl by CBS,” youtube.com, Jan. 24, 2019

CBS rejected a 60-second Super Bowl ad promoting the federal legalization of medical marijuana submitted by the cannabis investment firm Acreage Holdings. The ad features three people with health issues who say that medical marijuana helped them: Austin, a Florence, CO, boy with Dravet syndrome (a type of epilepsy); Greg Kazmierczak, a man from Buffalo, NY, who has had three back surgeries and was on opioids for 15 years; and Ryan Miller, an Oakland, CA, former Army infantry officer who lost his leg due to a combat injury. Acreage Holdings recruited former Speaker of the House John Boehner to its board of advisors in 2018.

A CBS Sports spokesperson stated, “Under our broadcast standards, we do not currently accept cannabis-related advertising.” George Allen, President of Acreage Holdings, said, “We’re not particularly surprised that CBS and/or the NFL rejected the content. And that is actually less a statement about them and more we think a statement about where we stand right now in this country… One of the hardest parts about this business is the ambiguity that we operate within. We do the best we can to navigate a complex fabric of state and federal policy, much of which conflicts.” A 30-second ad spot costs an estimated $5.2 million to run during the Feb. 3, 2019 Super Bowl game featuring the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots.

The federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, the most restrictive category of drugs that also includes heroin and LSD. 33 states allow legal medical marijuana, and 10 states have legalized recreational marijuana.

Discussion Questions 
1. Do you think CBS should have approved the medical marijuana commercial? Why or why not?

2. Should CBS allow ads for beer, liquor, and cigarettes to air during the Super Bowl? Why or why not?

3. Should the federal government legalize medical marijuana now that 66% of US states have legalized it for medical use? Why or why not?

Sources:

Eric Brady, “CBS Rejects Super Bowl Ad on Benefits of Medical Marijuana,” usatody.com, Jan. 22, 2019

CNN Wire, “Cannabis Company Says CBS Won’t Air Its Super Bowl Ad,” wgntv.com, Jan. 23, 2019

Chavie Lieber, “This Rejected Super Bowl Ad Highlights America’s Complicated Relationship with Marijuana,” vox.com, Jan. 28, 2019

Andrew McCarty, “CBS Reveals Why It Turned Down Super Bowl Commercial,” thespun.com, Jan. 23, 2019

NewWest Summit, “Ryan Miller,” newwestsummit.com (accessed Jan. 29, 2019)