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  • Writer's pictureRandy Shaffer

Why The Medical Marijuana Super Bowl Ad Was Rejected & Why You Should Share The Hell Out Of It

Updated: Aug 7, 2019

If you are a marijuana advocate, you may have recently read that CBS turned down Acreage Holdings' medical marijuana ad, originally set to debut during the 2019 Super Bowl.

The low down is that CBS rejected the option to air a 60-second spot that outlined the medicinal benefits of cannabis. If you haven't watched the ad yet, be sure to check it out as it is quite moving, not to mention eye-opening to anyone who may not know the benefits that medical marijuana can have on patients.

The Blame Game

While many advocates have been quick to lay the blame on CBS for being too conservative with their decision-making, the issue is likely far more complicated than a network simply saying "no" to an ad they didn't approve of, or didn't like. In fact, the reasoning likely boils down to a CYA or "cover your ass" move by network lawyers. I'll explain...

A few months back, Ohio Marijuana Card attempted to have ads run on a similar network. After working through the details of the contract, scripting out the 30-second spot, and mapping out when the ad would air and how many times audiences would see it, the whole idea was sent to the network's legal department for a final seal of approval. After a few weeks of back and forth messages, the network lawyers ultimately decided not to air our ads and the deal fell through.

Naturally, we were upset to learn this, but an explanation became abundantly clear -- the federal government's Schedule I restriction of cannabis led network lawyers to fear their FCC license could potentially be revoked if they aired the ad. After all, state laws are trumped by federal laws, and cannabis has long been on the list of federally-controlled substances as a Schedule I narcotic. In less words, in the closed eyes of Uncle Sam, cannabis has no medicinal value, a high potential for abuse, and should therefore be banned.

Marijuana Plant with Red "Do Not" Sign
Marijuana Ad Denied for Super Bowl

Unfortunately, this means that, as long as cannabis remains a federally-controlled substance, national and state cannabis ads (even medical marijuana ads) can be rejected for fear that the FCC will pull the network's license for violating their terms.

The FCC is an independently run, but federally-controlled wing of the U.S. government headed by the notorious Ajit Pai, the Trump-appointed head who has been trying to stifle the internet for the better part of a decade. It's smart to error on the side of caution when facing off against him -- at least this seems to be the reasoning behind the decision CBS made to reject the ad during the Super Bowl.

Exposure of that level may catch the eye of the FCC and lead to serious ramifications for the network. Obviously, that doesn't mean that CBS was right to do this. In fact, their decision is not in keeping with how over 70% of American households feel about legal cannabis -- they are all for it.

Had CBS been brave about cannabis, they would have aired the TV spot and challenged any litigation. Such a challenge may have even resulted in a change to federal laws. Alas, CBS is a network interested in TV shows and entertainment, and not an entity that cares about cannabis in any passionate way. This is why they said no to the ad.

Frankly though, it's time for the federal government to reconsider the ban on cannabis and lower the medicine to Schedule II, III or lower. This would open the doors for so many patients who simply need cannabis to treat their ailments. If cannabis were rescheduled, insurance companies could offer coverage, more research would be conducted, access to the medicine would be easier, TV ads could air and education would increase as a result. With that in mind, let's be honest...

Rejecting The Ad May Have Been The Plan All Along

There's no such thing as bad press. While there are cases that may be the exception to that rule, that's certainly the case with this ad, and I'd argue Acreage Holdings knew the ad would be rejected from the start. It's entirely possibly they may have even planned it that way.

The exposure from a Super Bowl TV spot would have certainly garnered the attention of millions of potential medical marijuana patients. But in order to bring about change, the ad needed to enter the public consciousness in a much more impactful way. The topic of marijuana needed to be discussed, talked about -- considered as a legitimate subject. One ad simply wouldn't do that.

Marijuana Cultivation Facility
Marijuana Plants Growing

By rejecting the TV spot, though, CBS has possibly done a huge service to Acreage Holdings, and their desires to see cannabis rescheduled, and treated like medicine. What may have been minimally shared by consumers after the Super Bowl will now spread like wildfire all across the internet as patients, advocates and many other passionate marijuana enthusiasts post, share and talk about the ad.

The ultimate point may have been to educate about medical marijuana while also raising another, even more serious issue: the federal ban on cannabis is halting the education and progress of this beneficial plant. That needs to change before we can go much further.

With over half the nation already implementing a medical marijuana program of some sort, and roughly one-third of the states having legalized cannabis for recreational use, the debate about reefer and its legality is at a peak. It seems now may be the time to finally strike at the heart of marijuana's unnecessary Schedule I status. And that's a unifying topic nearly every single cannabis enthusiast can get behind.


If you are an Ohioan suffering from one of these 21 medical conditions you may be eligible to treat your ailment with medical marijuana, which includes both THC and CBD products.

Click here to learn more about what Ohio Marijuana Card's state-certified medical marijuana doctors can do for you, or give us a call at 1-866-457-5559 and our friendly support team can walk you through the entire process, and set you up with an appointment.

Also, be sure to check out our latest episode of Ohio Marijuana Pod!


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