CBS has rejected a proposed Super Bowl commercial advertising medical marijuana, the company behind the ad said Tuesday.
Acreage Holdings, a Manhattan-based marijuana firm backed by former House speaker John Boehner, said CBS denied the company a 60-second spot sought during Super Bowl LIII next month, Bloomberg first reported.
CBS broadcast standards prohibit airing cannabis-related ads, a network spokesperson told USA Today.
“We’re not particularly surprised that CBS and/or the NFL rejected the content,” said George Allen, the president of Acreage Holdings. “And that is actually less a statement about them and more we think a statement about where we stand right now in this country.”
Thirty-three states and counting have passed laws legalizing the medicinal use of marijuana, putting most of the country in direct conflict with the federal government’s policy of prohibition.
“One of the hardest parts about this business is the ambiguity that we operate within,” said Mr. Allen, USA Today reported. “We do the best we can to navigate a complex fabric of state and federal policy, much of which conflicts.”
“We definitely want to underscore the fact that we don’t begrudge CBS or the NFL in any way,” echoed Harris Damashek, the company’s chief marketing officer. “They are just doing what they can and need to be doing to protect themselves,” he told Variety.
The proposed commercial would have included testimonials from three marijuana users asserting the plant’s medicinal benefits, including a seizure patient, a recovering opioid addict and a military veteran, accompanied by text urging viewers to press their congressional representative about federal marijuana reform, USA Today reported.
“It’s a public service announcement really more than it is an advertisement,” said Mr. Damashek. “We’re not marketing any of our products or retail in this spot.”
CBS is charging advertisers an average of $5.2 million to air a 30-second spot during the Feb. 3 game between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots, USA Today reported.
Founded in 2004, Acreage Holdings holds marijuana licenses most states that have legalized the plant, including permits to grow and process the plant. The firm reported year-to-date revenue of $10.6 million in Dec. 2018, up 92 percent from the year before.
Mr. Boehner, a former Republican congressman for Ohio and U.S. House speaker, joined the marijuana company’ board of advisors in April 2018.
Marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 drug under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, meaning the federal government has deemed the plant addictive and lacking medical value. Several proposals currently pending on Capitol Hill would effectively end federal marijuana prohibition by recategorizing pot or removing it entirely from the government’s list of controlled substances.
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